22 December 2017

The master of an Indonesian illegal fishing vessel today pleaded guilty and was convicted in the Darwin Magistrates Court after being caught illegally fishing in Australian waters in October 2017.

The master, a previous offender, was convicted for two offences under the Fisheries Management Act 1991, and was fined $12,000, and warned that if he was caught again in Australian waters he will go to jail. The offender originally pleaded not guilty at an initial hearing last month.

The master’s vessel was apprehended approximately 180 nautical miles north-west of the Northern Territory Coast, after being sighted by an Australian Border Force (ABF) Dash-8 aircraft conducting surveillance in the area. The vessel was confiscated and destroyed at a Darwin facility.

Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency task force within the ABF, tasked HMAS Armidale to intercept and board the vessels where small catches of dried and fresh fish, and fishing equipment were found.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s (AFMA) General Manager of Operations, Peter Venslovas, said AFMA takes the matter of illegal fishing very seriously.

“Australia has some of the best managed fisheries in the world and illegal fishing undermines the economic and environmental sustainability of our marine resources,” Mr Venslovas said.

“AFMA works hard with other Australian authorities, including MBC, to protect these resources so they remain viable for current and future generations.”

ABF Deputy Commander MBC, Craig Sommerville, said this is a significant outcome and sends a strong message to those who would attempt to exploit Australia’s precious natural resources.

“This individual has already had his vessel destroyed and this conviction and financial penalty today shows that Australia will not put up with people who try to fish illegally in our waters,” Deputy Commander Sommerville said.

“Australians can rest assured that the ABF is constantly vigilant in patrolling Australia’s vast maritime domain and is committed to protecting our marine resources from those who would look to plunder it.”


Media contacts:

Australian Fisheries Management Authority 0437 869 860

Australian Border Force (02) 6264 2244