MOST anglers on Port Phillip Bay know the rules, but a few who didn’t felt the weight of Operation Billit over the Christmas holidays.
The Fisheries Victoria operation targeted snapper anglers off Carrum and Chelsea, as well as Hastings in Western Port, with “a mixed bag of results”.
Fisheries Victoria’s Bob Hutton said 93 per cent of anglers were found to be obeying the rules and regulations. “We inspected 2100 recreational anglers on the water and at boat ramps and detected 144 offenders,” he said.
“This was not a covert operation and was widely publicised before it started, so there is no real excuse for those 144 anglers not knowing, or deliberately flouting, fishing regulations.
“One man will be going to court for allegedly exceeding the catch limit of southern calamari and another will face abalone-related charges.”
Altogether 39 infringement notices were issued, with two relating to exceeding the catch limit of snapper. The fish were seized and the anglers fined $455 each.
Other offences included taking other species below minimum size – also a $455 fine – using more than four lines and fishing without a licence.
“All of these rules are outlined in the Recreational Fishing Guide, which is available free from most good tackle stores or by downloading the free ‘Vic Fishing’ app for smartphones,” Mr Hutton said.
He said there was lots of night work involved and “great results” achieved – none of which would be possible without the commitment and dedication of officers involved.
“This operation was well supported by Maritime Safety officers who were a massive asset, providing both staff and resources,” Mr Hutton said.
“Throughout the season we will continue working closely with Maritime Safety Victoria to ensure anglers focus on safety, ensuring correct equipment is aboard and in working condition, staying well clear of ships while underway, not anchoring in shipping channels or fairways and check their vessels before leaving home.”
Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing is urged to call the 24-hour reporting line 13 34 74.