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More Abalone Theft Detected in Far East Gippsland

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AUSTRALIA - A joint operation by Victorian and NSW Fisheries Officers has resulted in the arrest of two men for allegedly being in possession of a commercial quantity of abalone in Far East Gippsland last week.

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The two men, from Ulladulla in NSW, were intercepted at Genoa, near Mallacoota, by Fisheries Victoria officers and Victoria Police late on Thursday night allegedly in possession of 446 abalone meats. The abalone had been taken from the Wingan Inlet area.

The abalone haul weighed over 80 kilograms and included eight undersize and five in their shells. The bag limit for abalone in eastern Victorian waters is five, of which no more than two can be greenlip abalone.

The men, in their twenties, were arrested, interviewed and charged with being in possession of a commercial quantity of abalone. They were bailed to appear in the Orbost Magistrates Court on October 25.

As conditions of their bail, the men were ordered not to be within 10km of Victorian coastal waters when in possession of commercial abalone equipment, not to be on a vessel less than 20 metres in length and not to possess any abalone.

Fisheries officers seized the equipment used by the men, which included a 1988 Toyota Hilux dual cab and a number of sets of snorkelling equipment.

This is the second time in two weeks that arrests have been made over the alleged theft of large quantities of abalone in Far East Gippsland.

Two other NSW men were charged with abalone trafficking after allegedly being found in possession of and taking a commercial quantity of abalone from the Point Hicks Marine National Park near Cann River on August 28.

Fisheries officers from both Victorian and NSW often work collaboratively to reduce abalone theft around the Victorian and NSW border.

Fisheries Director of Education and Enforcement Michael Hodder congratulated both agencies together with Victorian Police for the latest arrests.

People who illegally take commercial quantities of abalone from Victorian waters will continue to be targeted and the necessary legislative powers and partnerships will be enacted to deal with them. We look forward to further having this matter dealt with through the court system, Mr Hodder said.

Members of the public who see or suspect illegal fishing activity are urged to telephone the fisheries offence reporting line, 13FISH (13 3474).