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Operation trident targets illegal seafood

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Consumers are being urged to avoid stolen seafood this Christmas, with enforcement officers on the beat to stop illegal seafood traders.

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Acting Director Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully said Operation Trident is a multi-phase operation targeting the theft or illegal sale of oysters during this peak season.

"DPI fisheries officers will be on the beat – in the streets as well as out on the water to protect the valuable crops from illegal fishers," Mr Tully said.

"Fisheries officers work in conjunction with the NSW Food Authority and NSW Police Force – and in consultation with NSW Farmers to target oyster theft.

"The operation includes covert surveillance and overt inspections up and down the NSW coast that aims to disrupt and dismantle a black market which is responsible for ripping off hard working oyster farmers.

"Operation Trident has been a key part of the NSW Government’s crackdown on black market seafood since 2007."

NSW Food Authority CEO Polly Bennett said the black market oyster trade poses a health risk to consumers.

"Consumers are being urged to be our eyes and ear on the streets this Christmas," Ms Bennett said.

"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.

"Stolen oysters might not come from an area covered by the NSW Shellfish Program, the NSW Food Authority recommends people only buy oysters from reputable retailers as these oysters have been monitored for their safety."

NSW Police Force’s Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Mark Hutchings, said anyone illegally trading seafood should expect to be caught.

"Police have been working closely with DPI and NSW Food Authority to target and dismantle seafood trafficking rings that are ripping off our farmers and putting people’s health at risk," Supt Hutchings said.

"We are calling on the community, particularly restaurant or café owners, who may be approached by someone offering cheap oysters to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 and help us stop this illegal and potentially dangerous trade.

"Remember, the number-one rule of a scam is that if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Members of the public and any affected oyster farmers are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 if they have any information about oyster theft and the black market trade.

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