A new operation to crackdown on illegal fishing in Port Philip and Westernport bays was launched today by the Victorian Coalition Government.
Over the next few months Operation Rotor would see fisheries officers targeting people angling for snapper said Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh.
'Snapper migrate into Port Philip and Westernport bays this time each year to spawn,' Mr Walsh said.
'While the annual migration creates fantastic fishing opportunities, anglers need to know the catch limits and stick to them.
'Most anglers do the right thing but in the past few seasons there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people attempting to conceal their illegal take from officers.
'The message from this operation is clear: fisheries officers will be out patrolling the bays in force and you will face heavy penalties when you are caught.
'This season officers will seize boats and fishing equipment if illegally taken fish have been deliberately concealed.
'Anglers who breach the bag and size limits for snapper face multiple fines of up to $366 on the spot, or $10,000 through prosecution and/or six months imprisonment.
'We have also made changes enabling the courts to prohibit anglers from fishing for up to 12 months if they are found guilty of serious fishing offences,' Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh said the minimum length for snapper caught in Victoria was 28cm and a bag limit of 10 applied, with no more than three of the fish equalling or exceeding 40cm.
'Recreational fishers catch about 211 tonnes of snapper in Victorian waters each year, with a large percentage of that coming from Port Philip Bay,' Mr Walsh said.
'Operation Rotor will protect the sustainability of our valuable snapper fishery to ensure the resource is there for future generations,' Mr Walsh said.
Anyone who suspects illegal fishing of snapper is asked to report it to the fisheries offence reporting line on 13FISH (13 34 74).