Indonesian illegal fishers face court

Media release from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and Australian Border Force

Five Indonesian illegal fishers faced Darwin Magistrates Court this week where they pleaded guilty to offences after illegally fishing inside the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ).

The master of the vessel, who was a first time offender, was convicted and received a fine of $2000, while the four crew, also first time offenders, were each convicted and received a two-year good behaviour bond. Their vessel was also confiscated and destroyed.

The Indonesian fishing vessel was apprehended about 190 nautical miles off the Northern Territory coast on 8 October 2017, after it was spotted by a Maritime Border Command (MBC) Dash-8 aircraft.

MBC, a multi-agency task force within the Australian Border Force (ABF), tasked HMAS Pirie to intercept and board the vessel, where they found approximately 200kg of fish, including whole sharks. Officers also found about 100kg of baitfish on board.

Three longlines, each with 100 hooks, were also recovered from near where the vessel was spotted inside the AFZ.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s (AFMA) General Manager of Operations, Peter Venslovas, said Australia takes a strong position against illegal fishing in our waters.

“Australia’s well managed and sustainable fisheries can be a target for illegal fishing, and there are penalties for those caught doing the wrong thing, including prosecution and the destruction of fishing vessels,” Mr Venslovas said.

“AFMA regularly engages with neighbouring island nations to assist them with better managing their fisheries and to educate fishers about the risks of illegal fishing in Australian waters.”

“This work has been critical to achieving the steep decline in the number of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishers in northern Australian waters over the past decade.”

Commander MBC, Rear Admiral Peter Laver, said the outcome showed that Australia’s strategy to combat illegal fishing was working effectively.

“Every day our people are doing fantastic work protecting Australia’s coastline. MBC is fully committed to supporting whole-of-government efforts defending Australia’s natural resources, including its fisheries,” Rear Admiral Laver said.

”These outcomes are welcomed and should serve as warning to other potential illegal fishing ventures, you will be caught and prosecuted.”