The action was taken with the help of the NSW Department of Primary Industries and New South Wales Police Force, Marine Area Command officers.
Thirty-seven officers searched businesses, residences, vehicles and several vessels to collect evidence against suspected illegal fishing.
AFMA General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said that AFMA takes illegal fishing very seriously and operations like this one will continue into the future.
“People involved in quota evasion are really just stealing from the Australian community. They threaten the future seafood supply and the viability of recreational and commercial fisheries” Mr Venslovas said.
“Quota evasion undermines the sustainability of fish stocks and the livelihood and enjoyment of those fishers doing the right thing.”
This action follows the recent convictions of three skippers for failing to comply with fishing closures and breaching catch limits imposed by AFMA.
On 6 September 2013, the skippers from two boats operating out of South Australia were found guilty of fishing in closed areas and were ordered to pay fines, forfeiture of catch and compensation totaling $30,974.
On 13 September 2013, another skipper appeared before the Hobart Magistrates Court in relation to a separate matter in which he pleaded guilty to breaching catch limits on shark and was fined $6,000.
Mr Venslovas said that the convictions reflected the seriousness of the crimes.
“Closures are put in place to protect our natural fish stocks and to minimise impacts on Threatened, Endangered and Protected species. Non-compliance with rules and regulations can significantly impact future fish stocks and the marine environment”.
Fishers found guilty of fishing illegally or selling black-market fish may face jail terms of up to 10 years and fines of up to $42,500 for individuals and $212,500 for a company.
Know where your fish comes from! If you suspect illegal fishing or black-market fish supply to be occurring in your area please contact 1800 CRIMFISH (1800 274 634).