Departmental (media releases)
21 December 2018
With the festive season in full swing and NSW seafood flying off the shelves, authorities are
clamping down on illegal seafood sales in a joint operation between NSW Department of Primary
Industries (DPI), the NSW Food Authority and NSW Police.
NSW DPI Director Fisheries Compliance Patrick Tully said the focus is on illegal seafood sales,
particularly black market oysters.
“In 2007 we started Operation Trident to crack down on the illegal harvesting of oysters, and for 11
years now we’re been working with NSW Police and the NSW Food Authority to ensure that the
seafood that lands on NSW plates is safe, lawfully obtained and sustainably harvested,” he said.
"The Christmas and New Year holiday period is always the peak season for seafood and oyster
consumption, which also leads to a rise in illegal seafood trading.
“Our operation includes covert and overt patrols and inspections across NSW, and is designed to
detect and deter oyster theft and protect consumers against potentially unsafe black market
“Black market seafood threatens legitimate operators who invest vast amounts of time and money
to produce premium quality and safe oysters.
“Maximum fines of up to $275,000 and imprisonment apply and offences are created in the black
market trade by both sellers and buyers.
“NSW is known for producing a diverse range of delicious, fresh and healthy seafood that is
enjoyed by customers all over the world, and we want to keep it that way.”
NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo said the black market oyster trade poses a health risk to
“Illegal seafood is often stored in the backs of unrefrigerated trucks and we strongly advise against
anyone consuming seafood if they don’t know where it’s come from,” Dr Szabo said.
“Stolen oysters might not come from an area covered by the NSW Shellfish Program, so the NSW
Food Authority recommends people only buy oysters from reputable retailers as these oysters
have been monitored for their safety.”
State Rural Crime Co-ordinator Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside from NSW Police said
“We encourage people to report these thefts so we can have timely investigations and put a stop to
Anyone with information on suspected oyster theft or marine-related crimes should contact Crime
Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting
Illegal fishing can be reported to Fishers Watch on 1800 043 536 at DPI’s website.