FISHERIES officers are out to make sure anglers follow snapper bag and size limits in Western Port and Port Phillip bays.
Anyone caught over the limit will face $433 on-the-spot fines for each offence, have their boats seized or be banned from fishing.
Fisheries Victoria executive director Travis Dowling said officers would enforce catch limits, check fishing licences and educate anglers about fishing responsibly under Operation Billit.
“Snapper are an icon fish so it is important anglers fish sustainably by obeying the rules, knowing their limits and taking only what they need,” Mr Dowling said.
“Officers will be undertaking patrols in uniform and plain clothes, and from marked and unmarked vessels, including jet skis, which are a new addition to the fleet this year.”
Mr Dowling said boats would be checked on the water and at boat ramps.
“Those concealing illegal snapper catches aboard should expect to have their vessel seized on the spot and, for serious offences, the courts can prohibit anglers from fishing altogether for periods of one year or more,” he said.
Mr Dowling said fishing sustainably for snapper meant following a few simple rules: Abide by the minimum size of 28cm and the bag limit of 10, of which only three can equal or exceed 40cm, and land snapper whole so they can be measured by officers if required.
He said it was illegal to make several fishing trips in one day returning with the bag limit each time. It was illegal to shorten the length of a snapper by clipping their tails or for one angler to use more than four lines.
Rules are outlined in the Recreational Fishing Guide, which is available free from most tackle stores or by downloading the free Vic Fishing app for smartphones.
Fisheries officers and Maritime Safety Victoria officers will also check to make sure boats are carrying the correct safety equipment; stay clear of ships while under way; and do not anchor in shipping channels or fairways.
Suspicious or illegal snapper fishing can be reported to Fisheries Victoria’s 24-hour reporting line 13FISH (133474).