A spate of illegal fish jagging or foul hooking on the NSW North coast has triggered a warning from NSW Department of Primary Industries about the inhumane practice.

“Four fishers on the Northern Rivers have each received $200 penalty infringement notices for fish jagging in the last month,” Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said.

“In the most recent incident, a man was caught jagging fish off the Yamba breakwall and fined by NSW DPI fisheries officers.”

The man was observed using fishing gear for the purpose of jagging fish. He was issued a $200 infringement notice for the jagging offence and another $200 notice for obstruction.

Two other incidents occurred at Lennox Head last month, and one in the Tweed. The three offenders were each issued a $200 infringement notice for jagging mullet.

NSW DPI’s Manager Fisheries Compliance Glenn Tritton said hooking or attempting to hook a fish other than through the mouth is called jagging or foul hooking – and it is an illegal fishing method.

“It is likely that this practice is far more widespread than the four who have been caught in the act by DPI fisheries officers at Lennox Head, Yamba and in the Tweed,” Mr Tritton said.

“The large schools of mullet migrating on the North Coast at the moment are being seen as an easy target for jagging.

“Some fishers are illegally using heavy treble hooks to cast into the school of mullet and with a jerking action, trying to jag the fish.

“This not only causes unnecessary suffering to the fish that are jagged but the hook rips through the entire school and can harm a significant number of fish with each cast and strike.”

Mr Tritton said the rules and regulations for fishing in NSW coastal areas are available in the NSW Recreational Saltwater Fishing Guide 2009 – available from DPI offices and on the web at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

“The guide has a vast range of information on recreational fishing, including fish bag and size limits, the NSW recreational fishing fee and a section on responsible fishing practices,” he said.

“Anyone witnessing illegal fishing activity should report it immediately to DPI Fisheries Officers or the Fisher’s Watch Line on 1800 043 536.”