The discovery by SANE members of hundreds of abalone shells near Point Addis has prompted a call to include abalone under new shellfish protection regulations.
Four heaps of shells were found hidden in bushes on the road leading from the Great Ocean Road. Nearby were four hessian bags believed to have been used to transport the abalone from the beach.
Surfers in the Bells Beach area, particularly at Winki Pop, have consistently complained about illegal abalone collecting. Under existing regulations a person can take 10 abalone a day without a fishing licence.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) fisheries officers are aware of organised groups making repeated visits to beaches in a day, each time taking 10 abalone. But they say offenders have been hard to detect.
Locals to the area have often seen groups of 5 to 10 people with backpacks full of abalone being picked up at the Winki carpark by a rendezvous vehicle which is either a white mini-bus or several cars.
If you are in the Bells or Winki area and are convinced that a poaching group is at work on our reefs, you should call the Torquay police or DNRE or if possible take photo's and contact SANE. The more difficult we make it for poachers the better our environment will be for everyone.
A shellfish protection zone from the highwater mark to a depth of 2 metres exists from Barwon Heads to Point Impossible. SANE are pushing to have that extended to Point Addis. If you have any comments or information - contact us now.