Gus the groper: Shocking twist in case of beloved Sydney fish allegedly slain by Kiwi

The man who named and tamed a beloved Sydney fish says claims he was illegally killed by a Kiwi fisherman are untrue.   

Divers and locals alike have been left distraught after the decades-old protected blue groper called Gus was speared by a fisherman in front of beachgoers inside a marine reserve.  

Police say the man responsible for the slaughter was a 26-year-old from New Zealand, according to the Daily Mail.  

New South Wales marine police were called to Cronulla's Oak Park on December 30 after reports of alleged illegal spearfishing.  

The fisherman was questioned by police and fined $500 for killing the fish in a no-fishing zone.  

Photos on social media show a man in a wet suit holding the slain 40-year-old groper after spearing him at Oak Park Beach.  

But in a shocking twist, wildlife documentary maker David Ireland, 76, claims the slain groper is in fact not Gus.   

Ireland told the Daily Mail Australia Gus was much larger than the fish pictured with the fisherman and also had a distinctive scar near his tail where he was previously speared years earlier but had survived.  

Ireland said he first befriended Gus in the 1980s when he ran a nearby dive shop and filmed underwater adventures for TV. He said Gus was able to instantly pick him out from other divers.  

"Eventually he was so tame, I could put my arms around him like a puppy dog and pat him... I named him Gus, and that went on for decades," Ireland told Daily Mail Australia.   

"Every time I dived, I would hold Gus and feed him and then I filmed [myself] introducing him to my son Jason 11 years ago. I knew him very well - and the fish that was killed by that idiot was not Gus." 

Ireland also hit out at the man who killed the groper.  

"There's always f***wits everywhere, isn't there?' he said.   

"He obviously knew what he was doing - he had a decent wetsuit and good quality gear. He'd obviously done it before and he must have known what he was doing was illegal.   

"There would have been no sport in it - they're so friendly, it would have swum right up to him."  

NSW Police said officers were unable to locate the dead groper but it was believed it had been returned to the sea.  

Locals have proposed the area at Oak Park in Cronulla where the groper was killed should be named Gus Reserve as a tribute.  

The blue groper has been the premier state's official fish for more than 25 years.  

The species is protected and cannot be caught commercially or by spear.  

Spearfishing of the blue groper fish is prohibited and the maximum fine is $22,000 or six months in prison.  

The penalty does not require an appearance in court and therefore the man's name has not been publicly released.  

The Department of Primary Industries told Australian media the man showed "significant remorse" when he was confronted by fishery officers.