The public has helped PIRSA Fisheries Officers to detect and prosecute two visitors from Melbourne who were caught with nearly 100 kilograms of the state’s valuable Pipis.
Truong Vo and Thi Hoa Nguyen of Melbourne were convicted after being found in possession of 2,842 Pipis – weighing 98.9 kg – when they were intercepted by PIRSA Fisheries Officers and South Australia Police on the Limestone Coast in January.
The daily bag limit for Pipis in this region is capped at 300 per person.
PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture Acting Executive Director Peter Dietman said that Fisheries Officers launched the joint operation after being alerted to suspicious fishing activity at Geltwood Beach, near Millicent, by members of the public who phoned the 24-hour Fishwatch hotline.
“The Limestone Coast community, like others across the state, is passionate about protecting its coastline and community owned resources – and rightly expects all fishers to abide by the rules,” Mr Dietman said.
“It was public information that led our officers to launch the investigation, resulting in this illegal harvesting of South Australia’s valuable Pipis being detected, stopped, and then dealt with by the court.
“Fishing for Pipis has become more prevalent throughout the Limestone Coast over recent years – recreational fishers need to follow the rules if we are to have a healthy population and allow Pipi fishing into the future.”
Vo and Nguyen recently pleaded guilty and were convicted in the Adelaide Magistrates’ Court for exceeding the bag limit and possession of unlawfully caught Pipis. Fishing equipment seized at the time of offending was forfeited to the Crown.
The Magistrate ordered Vo and Nguyen to pay fines and court costs of $7,920.55 each.
PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture Regional Manager Limestone Coast Mel Teagle said the return of the Pipis to the water was a rewarding moment.
“After Fisheries Officers counted and weighed the illegal catch for evidentiary purposes, we were then able to return the Pipis back where they belonged, in the water,” she said.
“Recreational fishing for Pipis is permitted along this stretch of the coast but is capped at 300 per person to ensure the stock remains sustainable.
“For two people to have possession of nearly 3,000 Pipis is not only unfair on others who enjoy Pipi fishing, it’s a clear breach of the rules and potentially jeopardises the stock’s sustainability.
“PIRSA has a number of resources to inform recreational fishers of the rules, including the free SA Rec Fishing app, PIRSA website and the Fishwatch helpline can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1800 065 552.
“I want thank the community for providing such valuable information – it really does help us to direct our resources where they’re needed the most.”