Illegal fishing and cockle collection over long weekend

Peter Hill

MCLOUGHLINS Beach was awash with visitors during the Queens Birthday long weekend, but not all were there just to enjoy a walk along the 90 Mile Beach.

Many went to enjoy fishing in the protected waters of the inlet, or to try their luck in the surf, as Australian Salmon were running.

But some came to fish without having current fishing licences, while others attempted to take far more than allowed.

Fisheries officers conducted inspections of recreational boaters at McLoughlins boat ramp.

On Friday, June 5, one recreational fisherman who was interviewed had seven grossly undersize flathead.

State Fisheries operations manager Paul Shae said this individual was allegedly abusive and threatening towards fisheries officers during the inspection.

He indicated further enforcement action would be taken, as being abusive towards officers was taken very seriously.

During the weekend fisheries officers inspected 44 people collecting cockles at McLoughlins Beach at low tide.

Of those 44, there were 13 alleged offenders and 14 alleged offences detected, including not having current fishing licences and taking more than the legal catch limit of cockles.

On Sunday, June 7, about 11am, a group was intercepted by fisheries officers at McLoughlins boat ramp.

Forty-three litres of cockles had been collected between the five adults from Melbourne. The legal catch limit for cockles is five litres per person.

Eighteen litres of live cockles were seized and returned to the water.

All individuals were interviewed and enforcement action will follow, which Mr Shae suggested would likely result in two infringements and three official warnings.

The individuals, from Melbourne, all had fishing licences.

There are now two metal permanent cockle-specific signs at McLoughlins Beach, specifically placed there to educate people about the rules and catch limits.