DPIRD Ningaloo Marine Park blitz finds 28 recreational fishing offences in eight days

Alexander ScottPilbara News
Drone shot of spearfishing during Operation Greyby.
Camera IconDrone shot of spearfishing during Operation Greyby. Credit: Supplied/DPIRD

A blitz by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development uncovered 28 recreational fishing offences and two commercial fishing offences in the Ningaloo Marine Park in an eight-day period.

The blitz, dubbed Operation Greyby, took place over the last eight days of June with fisheries and marine officers from the department’s northern, Gascoyne and Mid West regions conducting visible patrols and covert operations.

Drones were also used for evidence gathering.

Illegal activity was encountered by the officers in the water, including 13 offences of fishing in a sanctuary zone, and a case of fishing in the Quobba fish habitat protection area.

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Five people were found fishing from a boat without a current licence, three people were detected spearfishing for prohibited species, another was spearfishing in a closed area.

A checkpoint set up at Coral Bay.
Camera IconA checkpoint set up at Coral Bay. Credit: Supplied/DPIRD

Two fishers had possession of totally protected category one finfish, as well as cases of using a net with no licence, using non-permitted means for taking mud crabs and failure to tail-clip a taken lobster.

There were also two commercial fishing offences detected where demersal scalefish had illegally been used as bait.

Exmouth-based supervising fisheries and marine officer Darren Schofield said a significant increase in non-compliance with fishing rules has been detected since 2020, which coincides with COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

“The extra fishing pressure has led to an increase in illegal fishing activities, as well as public complaints of suspicious activities and concerns regarding overfishing,” he said.

“We detected more offences this time in Operation Greyby than we did in a similar operation we conducted last year, so there will be future blitzes to help wipe out the illegal behaviour.

“The Ningaloo Marine Park is a wonderful place to visit, but we need to remind fishers to follow WA’s fishing rules or face the consequences.”

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