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Abalone Trafficking Ring Dismantled

20 June 2013

AUSTRALIA - The State Government’s fisheries and aquaculture department has wrapped up the largest abalone trafficking case in its history with the conviction of a seventh person involved in the trafficking of 480 kilograms of abalone.

Minister for Fisheries Gail Gago said the investigation into the trafficking syndicate detected in 2010 resulted in three arrests, seven people convicted with fines totalling A$28,952, suspended jail sentences for three offenders and a total of 360 hours community service handed down.

Trafficking of abalone is considered one of the most serious offences under the Fisheries Management Act 2007, and carries a penalty of up to $100,000 and four years imprisonment.

Minister Gago said the illegal, unregulated and unlicensed take and trafficking of abalone, which is a priority species, poses a serious threat to the health and viability of the abalone fishery.

“The extensive investigation and strong court outcomes send a clear message that activities which undermine the sustainability of our fisheries will not be tolerated,” Ms Gago said.

In the final case, heard before Holden Hill Magistrates Court last month, Dang Duong of Pooraka was found guilty of possessing 70 abalone and ordered to pay fines, penalties and court costs totalling $9452.

Minister Gago said Mr Duong’s conviction for his involvement as the recipient of the illegal abalone was also a serious reminder about the hefty penalties that apply to illegal fish sales.

“Our intelligence and investigation units target not only those illegally taking abalone, but also individuals and businesses that purchase or receive illegally taken fish,” Ms Gago said.

Buyers should be aware that their involvement can also result in significant penalties, and the public should ensure they only purchase abalone or any other fish from licensed fishers, registered fish processors or legitimate retail outlets.”

South Australia’s commercial abalone fishery generates A$87.8 million for the State’s economy, with the vast majority of the celebrated delicacy exported to major markets such as Hong Kong.

Primary Industries and Regions South Australia’s compliance and intelligence measures to protect the sustainability of local abalone stocks helps underpin the State Government strategic priority of Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment.

Members of the public can report suspicious or illegal fishing activities to the 24-hour Fishwatch number on 1800 065 522. Callers can choose to remain anonymous.

TheFishSite News Desk

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