Fisher jailed for huge illegal shellfish haul
A Port Pirie man has been jailed for 12 months, banned from abalone fishing for five years, and fined $7000 for trafficking abalone and assaulting a Fisheries Officer.
In April 2018, Michael John Eyre was found in possession of 40 greenlip abalone, all undersized, at Moonta Bay.
A further 965 greenlip abalone, including 744 undersized, were seized by Fisheries Officers when they searched his home later that day.
It was also alleged he provided a false name and address, and assaulted a Fisheries officer before being arrested.
While on bail in November 2018, Eyre and another male were found in possession of 53 undersized abalone near Bluff Beach on Yorke Peninsula.
Eyre pleaded guilty to all offences in the Kadina Magistrates Court earlier this month and was jailed for a total of 12 months, banned from possessing abalone for five years, and fined a total of $7000.
Greenlip abalone retails for up to $150 / kg in SA.
Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said the jail sentence is a timely reminder that fishers who do the wrong thing will be punished.
"Abalone is a priority species in South Australia and any breaches of abalone fishing rules is taken very seriously by the government," Mr Whetstone said.
"This man was found well in excess of his daily bag limit on multiple occasions, as well as in
possession of hundreds of undersized abalone.
"We have bag limits and minimum size regulations in place to not only guarantee the long-term sustainability of our fisheries, but to also ensure equitable access to our aquatic resources.
"Our Fisheries Officers perform a vital role, working in all kinds of weather, at all hours of the day to educate and monitor fishers' compliance with these rules.
"As this case shows, any attempt to prevent Fisheries Officers doing their important work and
engaging in violence will not be tolerated and will attract severe penalties, including jail terms and fishing bans."
The daily recreational fishing bag limit of abalone is five per person. Abalone must be a minimum of 13 centimetres when measured across the widest point.
Heavy penalties apply for offences involving the trafficking and possession of a commercial quantity of abalone, including fines of up to $100,000 and four-years imprisonment.
Suspicious or illegal fishing activity can be reported to the 24-hour FISHWATCH number on 1800 065 522 and callers can choose to remain anonymous.