21 April 2018

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

Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency taskforce within the Australian Border Force (ABF), and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), have apprehended two Indonesian fishing vessels in the Timor Sea, approximately 100 nautical miles east of the Ashmore Islands.

Two foreign fishing vessels apprehended east of Ashmore Island

On 19 April 2018, an ABF Dash-8 aircraft conducting surveillance in the area located the vessels approximately one nautical mile inside the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) and alerted MBC.

HMAS Broome was tasked to respond and, under the Maritime Powers Act 2013, intercepted both vessels 3.9 nautical miles outside Australian waters.

Officers of MBC boarded the two vessels, where they found 13 crew, 100 kilograms of fresh reef fish and 50 kilograms of partially frozen reef fish.

Commander MBC Rear Admiral Peter Laver said the whole-of-government approach to detecting and deterring illegal foreign fishing is proving extremely effective.

“The number of foreign fishing vessels detected and intercepted in Australian waters has dropped from more than 300 a year in 2006 to just 15 last financial year and our efforts are having a positive impact on marine life in our waters, particularly near Ashmore,” Rear Admiral Laver said.

“We remain vigilant and will continue to work with our maritime security partners to intercept those who seek to breach the AFZ and damage our unique marine resources.”

AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said the crew will be investigated to determine whether there have been any breaches of the Fisheries Management Act 1991.

“Australia has no tolerance for illegal fishing, and the collaborative approach between AFMA and MBC demonstrates our strong stance on the matter,” Mr Venslovas said.

“Australia’s well-managed fisheries are a target for poachers and those who choose to illegally take Australia’s marine stocks can trust they will be caught and face the consequences.”

The two vessels and 13 crew members are being brought to Darwin to face further investigation by AFMA.

Media enquiries:

Australian Border Force (02) 6264 2244

Australian Fisheries Management Authority media@afma.gov.au or 0437 869 860