Wednesday, November 18, 2020

An unlicensed fish receiver operating in the Torres Strait, was convicted in the Thursday Island Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday 13 October 2020, for offences identified in late 2019. The man was found in illegal possession of 41.3 kilograms of processed sea cucumbers (also known as beche de mer) and operating an unlicensed fish receiving operation in the Torres Strait Protected Zone (TSPZ).

The man was convicted and fined $1,500.00 plus costs for breaching the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984, with the proceeds of the sale of the seized product ($5,194.20) ordered to be forfeited to the Commonwealth

In September 2019 the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) identified the consignment of illegally caught sea cucumber en route to Sydney and notified the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) who later intercepted the catch in Cairns.

AFMA’s General Manager for Compliance, Peter Venslovas, said that illegal fishing comes in all shapes and sizes and all fishers and fish receivers need to be aware of their licensing requirements and obligations.

“AFMA takes illegal fishing very seriously,” said Mr Venslovas.

“Torres Strait commercial fishers are required to land all their catch to a licensed fish receiver, not holding the correct licence is an offence and those caught doing the wrong thing will be dealt with under the law”.

AFMA routinely undertakes joint operations with the QBFP and joint efforts continue to prove successful in combatting illegal fishing said QBFP District Manager Tony Loader.

“QBFP works closely with AFMA to protect the fisheries in the Torres Strait and the livelihoods of the Torres Strait community,” said Mr Loader.

AFMA is responsible for domestic compliance within the TSPZ, and Fisheries Officers monitor fishing activities in Torres Strait Fisheries, in line with the National Compliance and Enforcement Program 2020-2021.

Suspected illegal fishing or black-market fish supply can be reported to 1800 CRIMFISH (1800 274 634).