Feast turns to famine as men fined $10,000 for taking 378 abalone

A PLANNED seafood feast to celebrate the Chinese new year has turned out to be extremely expensive, after two Sydney men were fined $10,000 each in Milton Local Court last week.

The court was told on Thursday Hyeong Sung Kim, 50, of Wing Parade, Newington, and Hwan Gon Kim, 51, of Bud Greenspan Circuit, Lidcombe, were seen diving in shallow water off Bawley Point on February 1.

Fisheries officers checked out the report, and the following day went to the Racecourse Beach Tourist Park at Bawley Point, seeing a large quantity of diving gear hanging over a railing beside a cabin.

Next to the dive gear was a four-wheel drive with two large coolers in the back.

As the vehicle was driven out of the park the officers stopped the vehicle and asked the two men if they had any fish.

Both said they had none, repeating the denials when they were asked a second time.

That changed when the officers asked about the dive gear and coolers in the back of the car.

“Yes, we have got some fish,” Hyeong said, according to evidence presented to the court.

Officers found 378 abalone weighing a total 66.88kg and worth more than $3000 – well above the bag limit of two per person.

Three of the abalone had already been shucked, and 372 were undersized.

Hyeong said the abalone were collected from shallows and rocks near Bawley Point when the tide was out the previous day.

Hwan admitted taking the abalone because it was Chinese new year and he intended to give them to his friends.

Both men said they did not know what the limits were for taking abalone, the legal size limit of 11.7cm, and neither made any attempt to measure the abalone that were as small as 7.3cm.

They did not possess recreational fishing licences.

While neither attended Milton Local Court on Thursday, both were convicted of possessing prohibited size fish, possessing an indictable quantity of an indictable species, and possessing a commercial quantity of a priority species, while charges of trafficking the abalone were withdrawn.

Magistrate David O’Connor fined each man $10,000.

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