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Big fine hikes set to catch out rogue fishers

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Penalties for anglers who break the rules are being increased for the first time in 30 years as the State Government cracks down on recreational fishers who exceed catch limits or keep undersized fish.

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Announced today, the decision to increase fines from March is in response to calls from the recreational sector and a review conducted in 2019.

In many instances, penalties will increase more than 10-fold from $50 to $625.

The review of fines found many fishing offences and penalties have been unchanged since 1989 when the power to issue expiation notices was introduced.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the recreational fishing sector had consistently said fines were too low and not an effective deterrent.

He said this had been reiterated by the Minister’s Recreational Fishing Advisory Council.

“The black-market value of seafood has increased well beyond the penalties set back in the 1980s,” Basham said.

“For example, under the old rules, someone caught taking 20 undersize crabs could only be issued a $100 fine. Offenders found it cheaper to break the law than pay up to $150 for the crabs at the shops.

“Both recreational fishers and the commercial sector have been disgusted at these low fines, and both have called for significantly larger fines to deter wrong-doers.

“Using the blue crab example, under the new penalties announced today, an offender caught with more than 20 undersized crabs is going to be fined $625.”

There are 128 individual offences with increased penalties for recreational and commercial fishers including boat, bag, size and gear restrictions.

The penalty for taking 10 undersize King George whiting or exceeding the bag limit of southern calamari (squid) by 10 or more will increase from $50 to $625.

People who see anglers breaking the fishing rules are urged to report the activity to the 24-hour FISHWATCH on 1800 065 522, or on the SA Fishing App.

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