The Department of Primary Industries is calling on members of the public across rural and river-side communities to be on the look out for illegal fishing activities.
Senior Fisheries Officer at Bendigo, Paul Shea said officers recently found a number of illegal gill nets set in Lake Eppalock east of Bendigo and in the Loddon River west of Bendigo.
“Gill or mesh nets are illegal because of the indiscriminate way they catch and kill fish and wildlife in our waterways,” Mr Shea said.
Fish caught in a gill net (Photo courtesy of DPI Victoria)
“Platypus is one of the native species most likely to be caught in nets like these. The nets are also capable of killing waterbirds, turtles and huge numbers of fish.
“The nets had been set during the closed season for Murray cod which is the crucial breeding season, a time when they are most vulnerable, especially after recent drought and flood events.
“Thankfully, we don’t see this type of illegal gear very often. The use or possession of gill or mesh nets has been banned in Victoria for many years.
“Anyone caught possessing or using these nets can be subject to strong penalties under Victorian Fisheries law.”
Fisheries Officers will continue to patrol regional waterways, however they need the public’s help.
The Director of Fisheries Field Services Michael Hodder said that the individuals using such nets are clearly operating with criminal intent and requested that the public assist in identifying such persons through the 24 hour offence reporting line 13FISH (13-3474).