A spear fisherman has been interviewed by authorities and had his gear confiscated following the spearing of three blue gropers just weeks after the killing of a much loved and well known blue groper.
The man was reported by a passer-by who witnessed his catch at Plantation Point, Vincentia about a three-hour drive south of Sydney and called it into the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
Local dive operator Lara Boag took to social media to vent her disgust after hearing of the man’s catch.
“Devastating news,” she posted.
“A family of blue gropers, an iconic and protected species, has been illegally speared.
“After a fantastic beach dive with an amazing group, enjoying time with bull rays and dolphins, our joy turned to dismay as we came back to witness this horrific event.”
The illegal spearing of the three female gropers came just weeks after ‘Gus’ the groper was speared at Cronulla, in Sydney’s south, which sparked a public outcry.
Ms Boag said more needs to be done to protect the “friendly labradors of the sea”.
“Just days after losing Gus the groper in Sydney we’re reminded again of the urgent need for better protection and education,” she said.
Blue gropers are allowed to be fished in NSW by line, but spear fishing of them is illegal.
Sue Newsome, another dive operator located in the Plantation Point area, told the ABC fishermen needed to know the rules before heading out, and could not use ignorance as an excuse.
“They need to make it (knowing the law) their business,” she said.
“If they are doing that activity they need to know what they can and can’t do, and also where they can and can’t do that activity.”
Ms Newsome said it wasn’t just spear fishermen killing blue gropers that was an issue, but that divers in the area were also causing problems.
“When they feed them urchins, they are causing the gropers to interact with people more and making them an easier target,” she said.
“I’ve seen that behaviour first-hand, especially after the Christmas holiday, after the holiday divers leave and the blue gropers get aggressive because we are not feeding them.
“I’ve been hit a couple of times by blue gropers simply because I haven’t fed them, because they want a feed.”
The spearing of Gus the groper in Cronulla just before the New Year sparked fury among the locals who called Gus “an amazing creature to swim with”.
The man responsible, who was photographed carrying Gus out of the water, was fined $800 for the act, a punishment that people called “pathetic”.
In the most recent twist in the saga, the man has since claimed that the fish he killed was not Gus.
Anyone suspecting a fishermen of doing the wrong thing are urged to contact the 24-hour CRIMFISH hotline.