MURRAY Crayfish season has sparked a huge number of illegal haul offences recorded in the MIA and wider South-West NSW over the past fortnight.
A compliance operation along the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers has resulted in almost $24,000 worth of penalty notices being issued to recreational fishers for not complying with regulations for Murray Crayfish.
Officers found 27 recreational fishers breaking size limits, while 12 fishers were caught taking crayfish from the closed waters.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Director Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully said compliance rates were disappointing with over 100 offences being detected in the first two weekends of June.
“This is the fifth season the current Murray Crayfish regulations have been in place and many fishers are still not complying with them,” Mr Tully said.
“A total of 40 Murray Crayfish were seized by Fisheries Officers over the course of the operation, with most able to be returned to the water alive.”
Murray Crayfish regulations say the species may only be taken during the months of June, July and August from the Murray River between Hume Weir and the Tocumwal Road Bridge including Lake Mulwala and from the Murrumbidgee River between the Gundagai Road Bridge and Berembed Weir excluding Old Man Creek. Murray Crayfish are protected in all other NSW waters.
Fishers can obtain a free Murray Crayfish measuring device and the NSW Freshwater Fishing Guide from DPI Fisheries offices and most bait and tackle stores.
“Murray Crayfish are measured in a straight line from the rear of the eye socket to the centre of the rear of the carapace,” Mr Tully said.
“A minimum size limit of 10 centimetres and a maximum size limit of 12 centimetres applies and Murray Crayfish carrying ova externally must be immediately returned to the water.”
Fishers are also reminded that Murray Crayfish have a daily bag limit of two and the possession limit is four.
Any suspected illegal fishing activity can be reported to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536.
Regular patrols of the waters prescribed for Murray Crayfish fishing will continue during the season which ends on August 31, 2017.