4 July 2018

A 350kg shipment of live crab and tropical rock lobster (TRL) suspected of being taken in the Torres Strait Protected Zone has been seized at Cairns airport.

The consignment was intercepted by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol following an inspection of an aircraft’s cargo.

It is believed the catch of live crab (including some undersize), live tropical rock lobster (TRL) and frozen TRL tails were destined for southern commercial markets.

AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said it is illegal for individuals to catch fish products from the Torres Strait without an appropriate licence.

“Fishing is an important and historic activity for communities in the Torres Strait, so ensuring fisheries are sustainable and well managed is crucial to the livelihoods of generations of fishers,” Mr Venslovas said.

“Those who choose to unlawfully take Australia’s premium marine resources can be confident that they will be caught and will face the penalties for their actions.

“These are allegations at this stage and AFMA is now conducting an investigation into potential breaches of the relevant legislation and appropriate action will be taken if there is a case to answer.”

The product was sold and proceeds are being held in trust pending the outcome of the investigation.

If you become aware of any suspicious behaviour or illegal fishing practices, you can report these to AFMA online at CRIMFISH or by calling the CRIMFISH hotline on 1800 274 634, or call AFMA on Thursday Island on 07 4069 1990.