Two St Albans residents have been arrested and charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of abalone.
Fisheries investigators arrested the pair last Monday following the execution of a search warrant with Victoria Police.
The arrests were part of a four-month investigation into the illegal trafficking of abalone and rock lobster. Earlier in the investigation, a commercial quantity, greater than 100 abalone, had been seized.
Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) acting supervising investigator Peter Watson said last week’s search had uncovered 175 shucked abalone.
“The man and woman, aged 28 and 33, were taken to the Sunshine police station for questioning and charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of abalone, which is a priority species in Victoria,” Mr Watson said.
“The pair were bailed to appear at a later date in the Sunshine Magistrates Court and face maximum penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment.
“During the search warrant, fisheries officers seized commercial quantities of abalone, lobster tails, measuring scales and a quantity of cash.”
Mr Watson said the VFA would allege the pair used social media to facilitate the illegal sale of abalone and lobster and urged anyone who suspected illegal fishing to come forward.
“Our intelligence officers conduct routine monitoring of multiple social media platforms, and in this case, discovered a significant number of individual posts listing abalone for sale,” he said.
“Unauthorised taking and selling of this priority species threatens the sustainability of the fishery and jeopardises legitimate take by recreational and commercial fishers.
“Investigators and fisheries officers are dedicated to exploring all avenues and technology to investigate offences and protect our fisheries resources.
“The VFA will continue to detect, disrupt and dismantle organised illegal fishing activity as a priority.”
Illegal fishing can be reported to VFA’s 24-hour reporting line 13FISH (133 474).