A Bermagui man has been fined $800 and had his dive gear seized for spearing and filleting an Eastern Blue Groper on the South Coast.
Fisheries Officers were carrying out surveillance on a group of divers from a nearby headland and observed the man removing a groper from the end of a spear.
The man then climbed back on board his vessel and began filleting the fish.
Officers apprehended the individual a short time later after thorough search of the vessel revealed a catch bag of fillets stowed beneath the deck.
The Blue Groper is among the two percent of all bony fish species that are hermaphrodites. This means it can change both colour and sex as it grows. From juvenile through to adult the female is a red to brown colour. The dramatic change to blue male occurs around 60cm and these can grow up to one metre in length.
In the late 1960s, strict protection measures were introduced to preserve this species that has since become the iconic fish emblem for NSW.
Line fishing is the only legal method for taking Eastern (Blue Red or Brown) Groper in NSW. There is a bag and possession limit of two fish. There is a minimum size of 30cm and only one fish can be taken over 60cm.
NSW Dpi Fisheries ask that any illegal fishing is reported to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536.
Image Credit: NSW Dpi Fisheries