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Fisheries Operation Nets Three Men With 1300 Abalone

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More than 1300 abalone were seized when Fisheries officers from the Statewide Operations and Investigations Group swooped on three members of an abalone stealing syndicate, Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said today.

Minister Macdonald said the latest bust brings the total number of illegal abalone seized in NSW over the past year to more than 12,000.

"We will continue to target high risk offenders," he said.

"The success of this and other recent operations sends a clear message to abalone poachers who threaten the sustainability of the abalone resource by indiscriminately harvesting juvenile abalone - you will be caught."

Minister Macdonald said in the latest incident the alleged thieves were caught at Shelley Point, Kiola, twenty kilometres south of Ulladulla, following surveillance of their diving activities.

"Nine fisheries officers seized 1303 shucked blacklip abalone and three sets of diving gear," he said.

"Shells from 937abalone were recovered - all but three were of a prohibited size.

"The 75 kilograms of shucked abalone seized would have been worth $11,250 on the legitimate market.

"All offenders declined to be interviewed and the matter will now proceed to court.

Ten charges under the Fisheries Act are expected to be laid, including being in possession of prohibited size fish, possessing more than the possession limit, possessing shucked abalone adjacent to waters and obstructing fisheries officers.

"Penalties range up to a fine of $22,000 and six months imprisonment for the obstruction offence," Minister Macdonald said.

"The Iemma Government will not tolerate the illegal harvesting of abalone in any form."

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