Four Shepparton men aged 33, 35, 36 and 42 are set to be charged on summons after being accused of poaching abalone in Hobsons Bay.
Undercover and uniformed officers from the Victorian Fisheries Authority did a one-day operation this month.
Senior fisheries officer Dane Robinson told Wyndham Star Weekly a total of seven abalone poachers were netted with the largest bag containing 135 abalone — 130 more than the five allowed by law.
‘‘We utilised a fisheries officer compliance dive team where they will swim out and dive on potential offenders and catch them red-handed in possession of abalone,’’ he said.
‘‘There is a black market in abalone in Victoria. Depending on where it’s sold, it can sometimes be up to $40 to $50 per kilogram.’’
In addition, officers issued another 17 abalone-related infringements during this period for a variety of offences, including not having a recreational fishing licence ($159), taking from the inter-tidal zone ($317), and possessing and exceeding the catch limit ($476).
Abalone are protected in Victoria and can be collected only during a 60-day open season, predominantly from November to April, and only on weekends and public holidays.
‘‘There’s a lot of regulations to do with that, so you’ve got to dive in water deeper than two metres and you must carry an abalone measuring device,’’ Mr Robinson said.
‘‘You must measure the abalone before you remove them from the seabed.’’
Possessing a commercial quantity of abalone is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines.
Report illegal fishing activity to 13FISH (133474).