Media release from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and the Australian Border Force

The master of an Indonesian fishing vessel was convicted of two offences under the Fisheries Management Act 1991 in the Darwin Local Court last week after being apprehended for suspected illegal fishing in late April.

The master, a first time offender, pleaded guilty to illegally fishing in Australian waters and was fined $4,000. His twenty five metre fishing vessel has also been confiscated.

The vessel was spotted illegally fishing approximately three nautical miles (nm) inside Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, 97 nm north of Rimbija Island, Cape Wessel. The sighting occurred on 23 April by a surveillance aircraft operated by the Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency task force within the Australian Border Force (ABF).

Royal Australian Navy (RAN) vessel, HMAS Armidale intercepted the Indonesian vessel and in a subsequent search, a quantity of frozen fish and shark fin were discovered on board and a net containing 1.5 tonnes of fresh fish and shark was recovered from the water.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) conducted an investigation into the allegations under the Fisheries Management Act 1991, which led to the charges and subsequent convictions.

AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said that strong sanctions, including the loss of the boat, are important deterrents to those wanting to undermine our efforts in ensuring a safe future for Australia’s marine resources.

“Australia’s well-managed fisheries can be a target for illegal foreign fishing, but hard and fast on the water enforcement along with our regular engagement with neighbouring countries to tackle the problem collectively have been key factors in achieving the steep decline in the number of illegal fishing ventures over the last decade,” Mr Venslovas said.

Commander of Maritime Border Command, Rear Admiral Lee Goddard, said this result shows exactly how vigilant the ABF is when it comes to keeping Australian waters secure.

“Our dedicated maritime officers work within a world class multi-agency taskforce 365 days a year to stop anyone looking to exploit Australian waters.”

“Protecting the Australian marine environment is one of our main priorities and anyone who attempts this type of behaviour risks being found and prosecuted.”

ENDS

Media contacts:

Australian Fisheries Management Authority 0437 869 860 or media [at] afma.gov.au

Australian Border Force (02) 6264 2244 or media [at] border.gov.au