Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency task force within the Australian Border Force (ABF), the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and the Australian Defence Force, apprehended an Indonesian foreign fishing vessel on 15 November 2016 suspected of illegally fishing in Australian waters. The fishing vessel was first spotted by an MBC aircraft during a surveillance flight.
Australian Border Force Cutter Cape St George responded to the sighting and shortly after located the foreign fishing vessel within the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone. The vessel was initially sighted 415nm west of Darwin, approximately 23nm east-south-east of Browse Island, Western Australia.
During the boarding of the vessel, officers located between 150 kilograms of dried fish, 24 Trochus shells, 50 sharks and a large quantity of shark and fish fillets. The vessel and its crew will arrive into Darwin today where further investigations will be undertaken by AFMA.
This is the sixth apprehension this financial year for suspected illegal fishing, however, it is significantly lower than the record highs of more than 300 illegal fishing vessels in 2006.
The ABF continues to enhance its presence off the north-west coast of Australia with an intelligence-led, risk-based approach to protecting Australia from all maritime threats. The increase of ABF patrols off the coast of Western Australia recognises the importance of the environment and critical infrastructure in the region as well as the importance of providing an effective, comprehensive surveillance and response capability to counter people smuggling.
Combatting illegal fishing is imperative for healthy Australian fisheries for current and future generations to enjoy. More information on how Australia is working to combat illegal fishing can be found at afma.gov.au.