Over the past few years Australia and Pacific Island nations have been experiencing increasing incidents of illegal fishing by Vietnamese vessels. These vessels travel great distances to target reefs for harvesting sea cucumber, highly prized in Chinese markets, in foreign waters. One trip can fetch the fishermen hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit.
Australia maintains a strong stance on illegal fishing in Australian waters through the detection, apprehension and prosecution of illegal fishers along with the destruction of their vessels. Alternative approaches are also important and in the past, when dealing with illegal fishing vessels from Indonesia, AFMA rolled out a series of Public Information Campaigns to prevent fishers from embarking on illegal forays.
The Public Information Campaigns targeted multiple fishing villages in Indonesia and directly engaged fishermen to outline the implications of fishing illegally in Australia. Now AFMA is developing a similar strategy for working with the Vietnamese Government. Officers from AFMA, who specialise in international engagement, have been travelling to Vietnam to work with members of Vietnam’s Provincial and Central Authorities (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development – Directorate of Fisheries).
This collaboration will result in the delivery of educational seminars and workshops in multiple coastal towns across Vietnam on the potential risks and implications of fishing illegally in foreign nation waters. The program is strongly supported by Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and with the recent Prime Ministerial Order against illegal fishing by Vietnamese nationals, significant reductions in illegal fishing activity by Vietnamese fishing vessels can be expected.
AFMA Officer with apprehended Vietnamese boat in tow. Photo courtesy: AFMA