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Three Melbourne men have been convicted and fined a total of $11,000 in the Geelong Magistrates Court for taking 121 abalone from Portarlington, in February 2015.
Fisheries Victoria Officer Mark Gibson said the men, aged in their 50's were seen taking the abalone from the shallow reef by a member of the public who videoed their activity before calling the 13 FISH hotline.
The men harvested 121 blacklip abalone, of which 103 were smaller than the 10cm minimum size. He said as well as the abalone they took 398 periwinkles and other shellfish.
The men were also charged with taking shellfish from the intertidal zone, fishing without a licence and using a kitchen knife to harvest the abalone.
Mr Gibson said abalone and other shellfish that live in the intertidal zone are critical parts of that food chain.
“The theft of these large quantities of abalone can impact heavily and pose a real risk to the local reef ecosystem.”
Mr Gibson also said the verdict was an indication that the Court understood the significance the local Geelong community place on the health of our local waterways, as well as the high value of abalone as a commercial fishing resource.
Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing activity is urged to call the 24 hour reporting line 13 FISH (13 3474).