The number of people hiding illegal catches of snapper on their boats has increased, according to fisheries officers. During an Easter fishing blitz two boats were discovered with illegal catches hidden aboard.

It is alleged some of the fishers involved were Greek Australian. Director of Field Services at Fisheries Victoria, Michael Hodder, said one of those involved 35 fish, and in the other the angler suffered the embarrassment of having his illegal cache unveiled in front of a number of spectators at Sandringham.

“Last weekend was not much better with another two boats caught in similar circumstances,” he said. “At Black Rock we found a man had hidden snapper under trays of his tackle box and another boat at Mordialloc, had 71 snapper aboard, eight of them undersized and 50 hidden in the folds of the boat’s canopy.”

Two men in their 60s will be charged on summons after the Mordialloc discovery. Another man will be charged on summons following the Black Rock incident while another six infringement notices were issued.

“In all four cases, the actions of the fishers have been to deliberately deceive the Fisheries Officers who are working to protect the fisheries, and these actions will not be tolerated,” Mr Hodder said.

Fisheries Victoria intends to stamp out this practice, and those who choose to disregard the law in this way may find their boats and fishing gear seized, he said. “Bag and size limits are in place to ensure Victoria’s fisheries remain sustainable for generations to come,” Mr Hodder said.

Fisheries Officers are also reporting an unwelcome increase in the numbers of people taking undersize snapper in Port Phillip Bay. In recent weeks officers have issued more than

40 infringement notices during patrols and last week five people appeared in court and received fines raging from $250 to $750 for taking too many snapper. Fisheries Officers rely on the community to assist in passing on information on any illegal activity so anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing is urged to call the 24-hour reporting line 13 FISH (13 3474).