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Second Abalone Bust in a Week

AUSTRALIA - A surveillance operation on a suspected abalone poaching syndicate has resulted in the arrest of five men.

New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said the group were stopped by DPI fisheries officers at Bittangbee Bay, 30 kilometres south of Eden on the State’s far South Coast.

"This is the second abalone bust within a week and proves that the NSW Government’s compliance strategy of targeting illegal syndicates and repeat offenders is working effectively," he said.

"In this case, 641 shucked abalone were seized, along with a quantity of diving gear.

"The abalone would have been worth more than $9,000 on the legitimate market.

"The Iemma Government is determined to stop greedy thieves destroying the abalone industry by depleting this valuable natural resource to unsustainable levels.

"My message to abalone thieves - and in fact all thieves who plunder our waters - is that you will be caught!"

Twelve charges under the Fisheries Management Act are expected to be laid in relation to the latest abalone seizure, including possessing more than the legal limit and taking more than the daily limit.

The maximum penalty for both offences is an $11,000 fine and three months imprisonment.

Meanwhile, a blitz earlier this week on the North Coast near Port Macquarie netted what is believed to be the largest ever seizure of illegally taken rock lobster in NSW.

"Fisheries compliance officers seized almost one tonne of rock lobsters, worth more than $60,000, which were fortunately returned to the water alive," Mr Macdonald said.

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Ellen Hardy

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