On Sunday the 10th of February the Victorian Fisheries received a call around 6.30 am. The call was to go and investigate illegal catch nets within Sanctuary lakes estate. The call placed by a local who watched in horror as locals were planting multiple long fishing traps. Its a sad sight watching these illegal nets being emptied with hundreds of dead bream and Mullet. The majority of undersize fish and certainly not healthy to the balance of this eco system. The first net allegedly contained more than 1,000 juvenile bream. Officers managed to release hundreds of live bream from the net, however nearly 890 were already dead.
Sanctuary lakes is a delicate fishing system loved and protected by local anglers. Many who fish this system are pure catch and release to encourage clean and safe fishing practices. To see something like this is a blow for locals who genuine love this system. As a local I will never understand this type of behaviour. Why on earth would people want to illegally take fish this size in these numbers.
We commend the people who alerted fisheries about this. Lets also commend the Victorian Fisheries for their quick response time and action. Lets hope that the courts will hand down a penalty worthy of this crime. Unfortunately a minor slap on the wrist is often common practice so lets hope they set a suitable example. We are lead to believe that the culprits are local, and quite unremorseful about their actions. Fisheries Officers later attended a residence and allegedly discovered 5 more nets, which were seized along with a 2012 Toyota Camry. The pair face fines of over $16,000 and up to 6 months imprisonment. We encourage all other anglers to call 13 fish and report any suspicious or unlawful netting practices.