Media release from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and Australian Border Force
Two foreign fishing vessels and 14 crew members suspected of illegally fishing inside the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) were apprehended yesterday by Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency task force within the Australian Border Force (ABF), together with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).
An ABF Dash-8 aircraft conducting surveillance located the first vessel inside the AFZ approximately 180 nautical miles north-west of the Northern Territory coast. AFMA requested a response and HMAS Armidale was tasked to apprehend the vessel. Soon after, a second foreign fishing vessel was spotted nearby.
HMAS Armidale intercepted and boarded the first vessel and reported six fishers on board. The second vessel was subsequently intercepted and boarded with eight fishers on board the vessel.
Small catches and fishing equipment were located and recovered from the vessels, including hookah gear, sea snail, and dried and fresh fish.
The two vessels and 14 crew members arrived in Darwin today to face further investigation by AFMA over possible breaches of Australian fisheries laws.
Acting MBC Commander, Air Commodore Andrew Campbell said this apprehension of two vessels and 14 crew was testament to MBC’s significant aerial and surface surveillance capability.
“Through close cooperation with our maritime security partners we are able to successfully detect and disrupt illegal fishing in Australian waters,” Air Commodore Campbell said.
“Our officers will continue to safeguard Australia’s border and unique marine resources from those who seek to breach the AFZ.”
AFMA’s General Manager Operations, Peter Venslovas, said that protecting Australia’s marine resources from illegal fishing activity is paramount to ensuring sustainability.
“Together with MBC, AFMA continues working to stamp out illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Australian waters to protect and preserve our fish resources to be sustainably used by current and future generations of Australians,” Mr Venslovas said.
“Through regular surveillance and capacity building with our regional neighbours, we have seen the number of foreign IUU fishing vessels decrease in recent years.”