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New guardians of Victoria’s fisheries hit the decks

Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Victorian Coalition Government has moved to address long-term concerns about the resourcing of Victoria's fisheries, deploying 10 new fisheries officers across the state.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said the new recruits would enforce fishing laws and regulations around Victoria's rivers, lakes, bays and coastline.

"The previous Labor Government created 13 new marine parks and then left them vulnerable to illegal fishing by failing to increase the number of officers and investigators on patrol," Mr Walsh said.

"If anything, since the parks were created in 2005, the number of fisheries officers has decreased.

"These 10 new fisheries officers will help address resourcing concerns, bringing the total number of fisheries officers and investigators operating across the state to 77.

"They will be vital in controlling poaching in the state's marine parks and will substantially boost our capacity to protect the sustainability of our valuable fisheries."

Mr Walsh said the recruits were chosen from more than 700 applicants and now had the power to enforce fisheries legislation either through on-the-spot fines or in serious cases, through the courts.

"The officers will be responsible for protecting Victoria's inshore reefs, inter-tidal zones and marine national parks, including marine species such as rock lobster, abalone and southern bluefin tuna," Mr Walsh said.

"They will also be active in inland parts of the state with a particular focus on protecting any illegal fishing of Murray cod.

"The 10 new fisheries officers completed their training this month and have been deployed to Mallacoota, Traralgon, Melbourne, Apollo Bay, Horsham and Tatura.

"They will need to educate the public on fisheries rules and the reasons behind these, as well as enforcing the law," Mr Walsh said.

During their 10-week training course, the recruits learnt everything from identifying illegal fishing gear, collecting evidence for court and handling small boats, to four-wheel driving.

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