Inland Fisheries Law Enforcement
Officers from the Inland Fisheries Service (IFS), Tasmania Police and the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) conducted searches of nine residential properties and vehicles in the North West of the State.
The raids uncovered illegally caught whitebait, unlawful whitebait nets, illicit drugs and related material.
According to Stephen Hepworth, IFS Manager (Compliance and Operations) the joint operations were the result of intelligence led enforcement between the IFS, Tasmania Police Marine Division at Stanley, Smithton and Devonport uniform Police, and the PWS Regional Compliance Officer at Ulverstone.
“This level of cooperation between the various agencies has resulted in 11 people, many of them of mutual interest to the enforcement agencies involved, facing potential charges under a variety of legislation, including several drug related matters”. Mr Hepworth said.
“Eleven court files are to be prepared for complaint and summonses to be issued with two files relating to two men facing multiple charges alleging the unlawful take and possession of over 32 kilograms of whitebait”, he said. Officers also seized 21 whitebait nets and a boat.
Under Inland Fisheries legislation, special penalties of $159 per kilogram of illegal whitebait apply, on top of any fine that may be imposed by the Courts. Repeat offenders may also be given a prison term.
These harsh penalties serve as a warning to anyone choosing to disregard the strict regulations around the taking of whitebait. Poaching and the illegal sale of whitebait is an ongoing threat to the long-term recovery of whitebait fisheries.
Anyone who suspects or witnesses unlawful activity is urged to contact the Inland Fisheries Service on 1300 INFISH or on 0438 338 530. Information that will help catch offenders includes dates, times, vehicle descriptions, registration numbers and any details of the people involved.