11 December 2018

Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) Fisheries Officers focused on compliance activities in the Torres Strait throughout November, resulting in 19 vessel boardings and two fish receiver inspections.

Reports from the inspections were generally positive, with only a few minor issues raised, all of which were resolved with some additional education about the rules and regulations.

Two targeted joint operations with the Australian Border Force and Queensland police were conducted following reports of stockpiling of Tropical Rock Lobsters (TRL) prior to the opening of the season. Six lobster cages were inspected with one cage found to contain 24 live TRL. AFMA made enquiries into the matter but no one came forward to claim the cage, which was later seized, and the TRL were returned to the sea alive.

AFMA continues to conduct education sessions throughout the Torres Strait islands reminding commercial fishers of their obligations and license conditions. These sessions also provide an opportunity for fishers to speak directly with AFMA Fisheries Officers about any concerns they might have, such as licence restrictions and catch arrangements. The community plays an important role in ensuring the Torres Strait fisheries remain sustainable for future generations.

AFMA Fisheries Officers conduct routine inspections of commercial fishing activity, including checking catch disposal records, verifying licences for fishing and fish receiving, vessel boarding and inspection and targeted aerial and on-the-ground surveillance.

AFMA assumed responsibility for all commercial fisheries compliance in the Torres Strait on 1 July 2018. The changeover of compliance activities from Fisheries Queensland to AFMA is helping to streamline services delivered in the Torres Strait.

As at 30 November, two briefs of evidence were submitted to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) in relation to multiple alleged breaches of the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984. One further brief is pending and will submitted to the CDPP in December. Consideration is being given to the laying of charges.

To report suspicious or illegal commercial fishing, contact AFMA on the CRIMFISH hotline on 1800 274 634 or by email to intelligence [at] afma.gov.au.

For more information on how AFMA is deterring and combating illegal fishing go to pzja.gov.au and afma.gov.au.