Casting a wide net to catch illegal fishers

Media release from Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston

Canberra is hosting talks between ASEAN and Australian civil military-police leaders this week as part of a workshop to discuss multi-national cooperation on combatting illegal fishing in the region.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston, welcomed the leaders from Australia’s ASEAN neighbours and said she looked forward to hearing the outcomes of the talks.

“Illegal fishing is a significant problem across the region and it’s important that we take the opportunity to discuss what approaches are effective when it comes to stopping the unlawful plundering of fish stocks,” Minister Ruston said.

“Illegal fishing is by its very nature a regional and global problem, and therefore requires a multi-national response.

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing costs member nations’ economies millions of dollars a year, exploits vulnerable workers, risks lives, depletes fish numbers and hurts marine environments.

“This workshop will foster and enhance cooperation between ASEAN states and Australia and hopefully lead to greater cooperation and understanding in the future.”

The workshop program will include discussions on:

  • international legal obligations in relation to IUU fishing;
  • whole-of-government approaches to the surveillance and interdiction of illegal fishing in Australian and ASEAN member states’ exclusive economic zones;
  • how to improve civil-military-police cooperation in the surveillance and interdiction of illegal fishing; and
  • lessons learnt from regional cooperation, including through the Regional Plan of Action (RPOA) to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices including Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in the Region.

Fast Facts:

  • Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member states include: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • These 10 ASEAN countries are estimated to account for one fifth of global marine fish production, with six nations in the world’s top 15 fish producers.
  • Indonesia is the second largest fish producer in the world. It was recently estimated that illegal fishing cost Indonesia close to US$3bn.
  • The ASEAN fishing sector supports over 100 million jobs including an estimated 10 million fishermen.