Indonesian illegal fishers convicted and fined
During March and April, three Indonesian foreign vessels were detected fishing in Australian waters. All crews were detained by authorities pending investigation by AFMA.
The first vessel was located by an Australian Border Protection Command surveillance aircraft 175 nautical miles inside the Gulf of Carpentaria using gillnets to catch shark. Officers from the patrol vessel were unable to board the vessel due to rough seas. The foreign vessel was in distress and the crew were winched to safety by helicopter and flown to Weipa. They were later transferred to Darwin for investigation by AFMA. The vessel could not be relocated and was presumed to have sunk.
AFMA’s investigation revealed that the master of the vessel had an existing warrant for unpaid fines from an earlier fisheries conviction. Because of this he was sent to prison for 30 days prior to being charged and convicted for the most recent offence. He was placed on a two year $2,000 good behaviour bond for the more recent offence.
A second vessel detected was also targeting shark and other fish inside the Australian Fishing Zone northwest of Western Australia. Further investigation by AFMA revealed that the master had been apprehended in Australian waters on four previous occasions. He pleaded guilty and was convicted and fined $25,000. The vessel and fishing equipment were confiscated and destroyed.
The master and a crew member, a repeat offender, of the third vessel were charged and convicted for illegal fishing also off north Western Australia inside the Australian Fishing Zone. The master was placed on a two year $3,000 good behaviour bond while the crew member was placed on a $4,000 two year good behaviour bond. The vessel and fishing equipment were confiscated and destroyed.
AFMA General Manager Fisheries Operations Mr Peter Venslovas said that Australia’s border protection program has had significant success in deterring illegal foreign fishing activity in Australia’s northern waters.
“The interception and confiscation of vessels and the prosecution of their crews, coupled with activities to tackle the problem at its source within Indonesia, has led to a dramatic decline in the number of incursions with apprehension rates dropping from a peak of 367 vessels in 2005/06 to 12 since July 2011” Mr Venslovas said.
For further information please contact Gavin Lovelock, Manager National Operations on 08 8943 0380 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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