RecFish SA, the peak body for recreational fishing in South Australia, has today responded to news that fishers have been caught attempting to sell and trade their catch on social media. This was first announced by the Minister for Fisheries on Sunday November 29 and revealed that reports of illegal fish sales had lead to search warrants being issued.

RecFish SA understands that a number of the leads came from concerned members of the public who saw the posts on Facebook fishing groups and reported the alleged offenders to PIRSA.

Pleased that the online recreational fishing community appears to have helped raised the alarm, RecFish SA spokesperson David Ciaravolo said that the announcement highlights the fact that a small minority of fishers have not taken their responsibility to know the rules seriously enough. “Hopefully this comes as a wake-up call to any fishers who are not familiar with the rules and who have tried to sell excess catch.

“We have been advised that a number of recent cases have come about as a result of fishers failing to be aware of the recreational fishing rules and while far from common, it is still not acceptable to have this occur.

RecFish SA reminds all recreational fishers that it is their responsibility to understand the regulations and this includes not being allowed to sell or trade any part of their catch. Mr Ciaravolo said it’s very simple to not end up with excess fish, “know your limits and even then, don’t take more than you need.

Mr Ciaravolo was also keen to point out that while it is very important that fishers make it their business to know the regulations, Illegal operators who deliberately catch fish to sell, should not be considered recreational fishers. “Fishers who set out with the intention of selling or trading their catch are clearly not recreational fishers, they’re doing it for money and they are breaking the law” he said.

RecFish SA are concerned that negative publicity about such illegal activities can impact on the reputation of the of SA’s 277,000 recreational fishers, the majority of whom, do the right thing. “It’s not fair that this can raise suspicion about all the honest recreational fishers who would never consider selling their catch and it’s not fair to the legitimate commercial fishers, who pay licence fees and all the other costs of running a business” said Mr Ciaravolo.

“If fishers are going out with the intention to sell what they catch, then they are unlicensed, commercial operators and they are illegally seeking financial gain. That they do this by masquerading as recreational fishers, so as to avoid detection on the water, is disgraceful.

RecFish SA has welcomed news that investigations will also target those who purchase fish from unlicensed dealers. “We are talking about valuable, finite and shared resources, so it is important that we all do the right thing and play our part to ensure healthy fish stocks for future generations.”

RecFish SA encourages people to report all suspicious activity to Fishwatch on 1800 065 522.

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