Feature story

Regional cooperation combats illegal fishing

Australia’s close cooperation with its neighbours is putting pressure on illegal fishing operations in the region.

The coordinated approach to regional fisheries management is essential to the health of fish stocks in Australian waters and combating illegal fishing in the south east Asian region is a high priority for AFMA.

Work to deter illegal fishing occurs in fishing areas, ports, fish trade and markets, and is a highly comprehensive and effective strategy.

During 2011-12 such action included a known illegal fishing vessel being detained while a joint investigation was carried out by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and Malaysian authorities, with assistance from Singapore.
Another vessel was also deterred from docking in Singapore when it was found to be on an illegal vessel list.
In all of these instances Australia was involved by helping to determine whether the vessels were listed as illegal, unregulated or unreported and advising on the appropriate action to take.

Australian Fisheries Management Authority General Manager Operations, Peter Venslovas said that the close working relationships with neighbouring countries was having a significant impact on illegal fishing operations.

“These vessels rely on being able to unload their illegal catch for sale and by working with our counterparts around our region we are making it very difficult for these illegal operators,” he said.

The international cooperation is part of a plan of action which aims to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the south east Asian region.

Australia is party to a number of regional fisheries management organisations which maintain lists of suspected and known illegal fishing vessels that have been identified as operating against internationally and regionally agreed standards, and AFMA is a proactive in alerting regional partners to the activities of these illegal vessels.

AFMA and Malaysia officers boarding illegal fishing vessel Pion in Malaysia.