Spearfisherman fined for killing 40-year-old Gus, an iconic blue fish

A spearfisherman in Australia is being harshly criticized by the locals for killing Gus the Grouper, a beloved 40-year-old blue fish that had been protected since 1996.

On December 30, a 26-year-old man from New Zealand was spearfishing at Old Park in Cronulla, a suburb of Sydney, and speared the iconic fish, doing so in a no-spearfishing zone, as reported by and au.

The blue grouper, known for being non-aggressive and inquisitive, became the official fish of New South Wales in 1996, when it became protected from spearfishing and commercial enterprise.

Tenielle Piek, a local woman, told that the “gorgeous bright blue fish” is well known to other divers and swimmers in the area. Piek’s family had swum with Gus for 30 years. She witnessed the incident.

“The man pulled the grouper out of the water triumphantly,” she said. “Locals were shocked and outraged … My mother was the first person to approach the man requesting to take his photo. He smiled and showed off his killing without realizing it was a protected species and could be fined up to $11,000 for spearing a blue grouper.”

The spearfisherman was ultimately fined $537 after being questioned by police.

“Gus, you were more than just a diving buddy,” Abyss Scuba Diving wrote on Facebook. “You were a true companion, joining me on countless dives at Oak Park, Cronulla. Your untimely demise on December 30, 2023, at the hands of a spearfisherman has left us devastated.”

More from Daily Mail Australia:

“Grouper are protected from commercial fishing and spearfishing, and can only legally be taken by line in NSW. For recreational fishers a minimum size limit of 30cm and a bag limit of two (with only one fish over 60cm) applies,” the spokesperson [from the Department of Primary Industries] said.

“Maximum penalties by way of court prosecution for an individual are $22,000 and/or six months imprisonment for a first offense relating to size and bag limits, and $11,000 for taking grouper by an unlawful method.”

Story originally appeared on For The Win