A NEWCASTLE restaurant's possession of more than a dozen allegedly untagged eastern rock lobsters could cost the business more than $15,000 after a NSW Department of Primary Industries raid.
The regulator is urging recreational fishers and food outlets to ensure they follow the rules or prepare to face consequences.
Acting director fisheries compliance Anthony Chen said there had been a number of convictions of both fishers and restaurateurs.
"An Adamstown restaurant has been fined $15,925 after Hunter District Fisheries officers carried out a restaurant inspection where they found and seized 17 untagged eastern rock lobsters (ERL) alleged to have come from an illegitimate source," Mr Chen said.
"The matter was prosecuted in Newcastle Local Court this month where the restaurateur was convicted and fined for offences relating to the possession and sale of a commercial quantity (17) of black market ERL."
Eastern rock lobsters are a priority species under legislation, making it illegal to buy or sell them unless caught and tagged by licenced commercial fishers.
Separately, two individuals have been slapped with $27,350 in fines after they were caught selling recreationally harvested cockles online.
Fisheries officers determined the cockles were harvested in Lake Illawarra and advertised for sale on social media in the Sydney area.
Mr Chen said the offences were considered severe in the eyes of fisheries officers.
"Recreationally caught fish cannot be sold under any circumstances," he said.
"Selling recreationally caught fish is a risk to public health as the seafood is not subject to the same stringent testing and handling procedures as legitimate commercial harvest.
"These illegal operators just don't care for their product like our licenced commercial fishers do, all they are concerned about is a quick buck not the quality of their product or the safety of consumers."
Anyone who suspects illegal activity in NSW is urged to report it to the Fishers Watch hot line on 1800 043 536 or report online.
The Adamstown fine is not the first time eastern rock lobster catches in the Hunter have ended in tears for fishermen.
In 2018, fisheries officers apprehended two Harrington men in a Wickham fast food restaurant's car park after following a trawler into Newcastle harbour.
The men were ordered to pay more than $40,000 in fines after they were found in possession of 40 eastern rock lobsters, two of them oversized.