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New South Wales Takes Bold Stand: Blue Groper Fishing Ban Enacted After Public Outcry

New South Wales Takes Bold Stand: Blue Groper Fishing Ban Enacted After Public Outcry

The New South Wales (NSW) government has announced a complete ban on the fishing for and take of blue groper.  This decision was propelled by a series of illegal spearfishing killings that have sparked national outrage.

This new regulation, unveiled on Wednesday 20th of February, extends protection to the state fish of NSW prohibiting the capture and take of Blue Gropers by any method, including line fishing and spearfishing.

Spearfishing was previously banned in 1969 and commercial fishing was also banned. The law comes in response to the spearfishing deaths of several blue gropers which led to widespread anger and controversy. 

Spearfisherman illegally kills Blue Groper in Cronulla
In January a Blue Groper, affectionately known by locals as Gus, was illegally killed by a spear fisherman in Oak Park, Cronulla, in January.

The outrage was further fueled when days later three more Gropers were killed by a spearfisherman in Vincentia, on NSW's south coast.

An online petition initiated by the Animal Justice Party, calling for increased penalties for such actions, garnered 5813 signatures. The petition was a direct response to the perceived leniency of the $800 fine imposed on the 26-year-old man responsible for killing Gus.

In an effort to address community concerns and protect these beloved marine creatures the NSW government has decided to implement the ban initially on a 12-month trial basis.

During this period the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will engage with stakeholders and the community to discuss the changes and gather feedback. Notably, the ban exempts Aboriginal cultural fishing, acknowledging the cultural significance of blue gropers to Indigenous peoples.

Violators of the new law face severe penalties, including a $500 infringement notice for first-time offenders with the possibility of court-imposed fines up to $22,000 or six months imprisonment, or both.

Repeat offenders could face fines up to $44,000 or twelve months imprisonment, or both. NSW Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty emphasized that the new rules aim to align regulations for all recreational fishers ensuring that Blue Gropers are "admired but not targeted."

This legislative change underscores the NSW government's commitment to marine conservation and reflects the community's strong connection to the iconic Blue Groper. By enforcing stricter regulations the government hopes to preserve the species' population and maintain the ecological balance of NSW's coastal waters. There were no scientific studies performed to back up the ban.

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