Abalone thief sent to prison

A RECIDIVIST fish thief has been gaoled for six months after being caught in far east Gippsland a fortnight ago with a commercial quantity of abalone.

The 43-year-old Sydney man was apprehended by fisheries officers and police on the morning of Saturday, January 4, in possession of 120 abalone.

The man was interviewed, charged with trafficking and possessing a commercial quantity of abalone and breaching a court order under the Fisheries Act and was remanded in custody.

Appearing at the Sale Magistrates Court last Monday, the man was banned from any type of abalone fishing for 10 years.

Under the prohibition order he must not possess any abalone in Victoria, possess any commercial fishing equipment within 10 kilometres of estuarine or marine waters, possess any abalone tool, be on any boat less than 20 metres in length, be on board any registered fishing boat in Victorian waters and not engage in any abalone fishing activity.

The man was also charged with a number of other criminal offences.

All the abalone, equipment and a vehicle were seized.

Senior fisheries officer Trudy Schmidt said the penalty reflected the community's view in relation to those people who flouted the law and stole abalone.

People with information about suspect fishing activity can phone the 24-hour reporting line on 13 34 74.