Black market sales land fishers in hot water

A 38 year old Queenscliff man is facing a number of charges after allegedly being caught selling fish on the black market. He was arrested on 28 October.

He has been charged with a number of fisheries related offences, including the unlicensed taking of fish for sale and exceeding catch limits. The man was bailed to appear in the Geelong Magistrates Court later this year.

Two other men, from Leopold and Point Lonsdale, are also facing charges. Fisheries Officers executed three search warrants and inspected eight premises on the Bellarine Peninsula and in Melbourne.

It will be alleged the Fisheries Officers uncovered illegally sold fish, in particular King George whiting and Calamari. They also seized freezers, two boats and a car.

The searches and inspections were the culmination of a 10 month investigation, code named MINT, into what will be alleged to be a systematic and organised operation to take fish for illegal sale.

The coordinated inspections were carried out by 23 Fisheries officers, backed by Victoria Police. DPI will allege the fish seized were destined for sale on the Victorian domestic market.

The owners or operators of some premises visited may also face charges. Several retail outlets, including restaurants, are suspected of involvement in the black market operations.

Readers are reminded that people caught illegally buying or selling seafood can faces significant fines and/or imprisonment. All members of the public can report any suspicious fishing activities to the 24 hour reporting line 13-FISH (13 3474).