Maritime Border Command (MBC) together with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) have apprehended an Indonesian fishing vessel about 190 nautical miles off the Northern Territory coast, suspected of illegally fishing inside the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ).
MBC, a multi-agency task force within the Australian Border Force (ABF), tasked HMAS Pirie to intercept the vessel after it was spotted by an MBC Dash-8 aircraft on Saturday 7 October 2017.
HMAS Pirie intercepted and boarded the vessel and found approximately 200kg of fish, including whole shark. Officers also found about 100kg of baitfish on board.
Two longlines, each carrying 200 hooks, were also located near where the vessel was first spotted inside the AFZ.
The five crew have been brought to Darwin for further investigation by AFMA over possible breaches of Australian fisheries laws.
MBC Commander Rear Admiral Peter Laver said the significant aerial and surface surveillance capability within the AFZ is having a noticeable impact on illegal fishing in Australian waters.
“No matter where these fishermen are from or what methods they use, if they are inside our waters we will be watching them and if they are found to be doing the wrong thing they will be intercepted and will face the full force of the law,” Rear Admiral Laver said.
“Illegal fishers risk losing their vessel and being brought to Australia to face significant fines or even jail time – it’s just not worth it.”
AFMA’s General Manager Fishing Operations Peter Venslovas said that thanks to surveillance and capacity building with our regional partners, there had been a dramatic reduction in illegal foreign fishing over the last decade. Numbers have plummeted from 367 a year to just 15 in 2016.
“Not only do Australian government agencies work together to combat illegal foreign fishing, but we share information and provide training to our international counterparts,” Mr Venslovas said.
“These levels of cooperation are essential if we are to continue to successfully target those seeking to plunder Australia’s marine resources.”
The Indonesian crew arrived in Darwin on October 10 2017.
Source: Australian Government