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Operation Maxima to Target Abalone Fisheries Crime

02 July 2012, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - The NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) has commenced Operation Maxima a major three month compliance operation targeting abalone fisheries crime which started on 1 July.

Director of Fisheries Compliance, Glenn Tritton, said NSW DPI was publicly flagging the start of a major abalone operation for the first time in an effort to deter those planning to undertake illegal fishing activity.

"I urge anybody considering illegally fishing for, or buying, abalone to rethink their plans. The chances are you will get caught, so dont take the risk," he said.

"Throughout Operation Maxima, multiple teams of fisheries officers will target recreational and commercial fishers diving for abalone along the entire south coast, as well as the greater Sydney area where a lot of abalone is sold and consumed.

"They will be supported by investigators from the Statewide Operations and Investigations Group and Marine Parks officers, with assistance from the NSW Police Marine Area Command and officers from the NSW Food Authority.

"Well be looking at all aspects of the abalone fishery, from recreational fishing to commercial fishing and the post harvest sector, which includes all forms of sale of wild and cultured abalone."

NSW Police Marine Area Commander, Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchings, said Operation Maxima would build on the success of last years Operation Fusion, a joint abalone blitz by NSW DPI and NSW Police.

"Operation Fusion resulted in a number of apprehensions on the South Coast, including the dismantling of an alleged decade-long illegal abalone trafficking syndicate," Det Supt Hutchings said.

"The NSW Police Marine Area Command regularly works in cooperation with fisheries officers and this will be another example of a successful joint operation."

NSW Food Authority Director of Compliance and Enforcement, Peter Day, said the Authority sees the joint operation as a great opportunity to focus on food safety issues while the partner groups focus on sustainability of the resource.

Mr Day also warned that black market abalone could pose a health risk to consumers.

"The NSW Food Authority warns against buying abalone from unknown suppliers or roadside sellers. Abalone sold under the table may not have been handled properly and could make you sick," he said.

Anybody witnessing illegal activity is encouraged to contact their nearest Fisheries NSW office or call the call the Fishers Watch line on 1800 043 536.

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