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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Wednesday 3 November 2021

DPIRD fisheries officers disrupt black market seafood syndicate

​Authorities have swooped on alleged black market dealing and trafficking of abalone.

In a joint operation over the weekend, Fisheries and Marine Officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), with the assistance of WA Police and Australian Border Force, executed two search warrants at properties in Perth’s southern suburbs.

Operation DEEPWOLF targeted fishing syndicates involved in the illegal trade of seafood in the South West and Perth metropolitan areas.

During searches, DPIRD officers seized several items, including a vehicle believed to have been used to transport large quantities of black-market abalone.

A number of people believed to be involved in the alleged illegal trade of seafood, including a 61-year-old woman from Canning Vale, have been interviewed. Investigations are continuing.

It is illegal to sell, purchase or barter with recreationally caught fish in Western Australia.

Individuals involved in trafficking priority fish, like abalone and rock lobster, could face four year’s imprisonment or fines up to $400,000 as well as court orders, licence suspensions and vehicle or vessel forfeitures.

Any black-market trade in abalone not only undermines the legitimate livelihoods of commercial fishers but can put consumers at risk and impact on abalone sustainability.

Commercial abalone fishing in WA is undertaken by licensed commercial abalone divers operating a limited number of managed fishery licences authorised to take specific amounts of abalone (or quota) in specific zones.

Western Australia’s fisheries are managed to ensure that our aquatic resources are available to both recreational and commercial fishers and breaches of our communities’ fishing laws are unacceptable.

If you have information involving the illegal trade of fish, you can report it anonymously to Fishwatch on 1800 815 507 or send an email to

Last modified: 3/11/2021 8:59 AM

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