Two Sunshine West men have been arrested for allegedly possessing more than 230 abalone at Altona beach.

Fisheries officers watched the pair diving for about two hours on Saturday afternoon before pouncing.

Victorian Fisheries Authority education and enforcement director Ian Parks said the men were allegedly caught with 232 abalone of which 173 were markedly undersized.

“The daily bag limit for abalone is five per person,” he said.

“On Saturday afternoon, Fisheries officers observed two males arriving at the reef area of Altona beach with dive equipment.

“Fisheries officers maintained covert surveillance on the area for around two hours, later arresting the males just before they left in a vehicle that had been circling the area.”

Mr Parks said the two were facing serious charges.

“The offenders are expected to be charged on summons with numerous fisheries offences including, take and possess a commercial quantity of abalone of which the penalty is up to five years imprisonment,” he said.

“Fisheries officers did return the abalone to Port Phillip Bay but unfortunately most were dead when placed back into the water.

“We know most people do the right thing when it comes to enjoying Victoria’s fisheries, but it only takes a few wrongdoers to have a serious impact.”

In June, two Tarneit men were fined $15,000 and had their $5000 Ford XR6 and diving equipment forfeited after pleading guilty to possessing nearly 300 abalone at Altona.

Report illegal fishing anonymously at 13FISH (13 3474)  24 hours.