Patrols shocked by massive illegal catches
Recreational fishers are being reminded about the size limits and new bag and boat limits while fishing for blue swimmer crabs in Gulf St Vincent.
Fisheries and Aquaculture Operations director, Peter Dietman said it was disappointing to find high levels of non-compliance among fishers since the new limits came into effect on July 1 – despite information about the limits being available across a variety of channels.
Patrols on the crabbing beaches conducted during September and over the October long weekend revealed a high level of non-compliance resulting in more than 3800 blue swimmer crabs being seized.
The patrols, which covered all beaches from St Kilda in the metropolitan area and northward along the top of Gulf St Vincent to Ardrossan on Yorke Peninsula, resulted in more than 680 fishers being checked over two weekends.
In addition to the crab seizures, with many crabs being undersize, a total of 90 expiation notices and 54 caution notices were also issued.
“The non-compliance rate, specifically in relation to undersized crabs, is totally unacceptable,” Mr Dietman said.
“People who think that it is acceptable to take undersize crabs and exceed the bag limit are damaging the fishery for everyone.”
Fisheries Minister Gail Gago said ensuring the state’s fisheries are protected is a priority of the State government.
“We have some of the best-managed fisheries in the world, and to keep it this way everyone needs to make sure they are doing the right thing.
“In most cases this is what occurs, but for the few who spoil it for the many, our dedicated fisheries officers are constantly out across the state’s waters keeping an eye out and spreading the word.”
Mr Dietman said Fisheries officers work firstly to educate the community about fishing regulations, but blatant disregard for size and bag limits were treated seriously with seizures and fines.
“We widely publicised the new limits before they came into effect with this information readily available on our website, social media channels and brochures,” he said.
“In recent weeks our Fishwatch volunteers have also been out and about advising fishers about the new rules.
“The most disappointing this is that the majority of fishers inspected during the patrols were aware that size and bag limits exist for blue swimmer crabs, and yet many still chose to take undersize crabs, while there were some who don’t know when to stop fishing and ignore the legal limits.”
“Size, bag and boat limits are an important tool in managing the State’s valuable fish stocks and ensuring their continued sustainability.”
n NEW LIMITS: Current rules relating to catching blue crabs in Gulf St Vincent are a daily bag limit (recently been reduced to 20 per person), and a minimum size limit of 11cm width, measured across the carapace from the base of the largest spines, also applies. It is also illegal to take female crabs with eggs and they must be returned to the water straight away without harm.
The new limits remain in effect until June 30, 2014.
n Anyone can report illegal fishing activity through the 24 hour FISHWATCH number on 1800 065 522. Callers will speak to a Fisheries officer and can choose to remain anonymous.
For up to date information on size, bag and boat limits simply send a text message with the name of a fish species to the SMSFish number 0427 767 995 and receive an immediate text response or visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/fisheries.
Further information on recreation fishing rules, regulations and closures is now also available from the SA Recreational Fishing Guide smartphone app which can be downloaded from http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/recfishingapp.