Fifteen illegal fishers handed hefty fines

Fifteen illegal fishers handed hefty fines

This is a joint media release between the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and the Australian Border Force.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) in partnership with Maritime Border Command, a multi-agency task force utilising Australian Border Force and Australian Defence Force assets, continues to target illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters to protect our precious marine resources.

In separate incidents throughout March 2024, Australian authorities intercepted and apprehended three (3) Indonesian fishing vessels fishing illegally in Australian waters.

Two of these vessels were intercepted in the Kimberley Marine Park, with the other located and intercepted in the Rowley Shoals Marine Park. Australian authorities seized fishing equipment, a combined total of 100 kilograms of salt (used for preserving catch) as well as 20 kilograms of sea cucumber (trepang). The fishing vessels were seized and lawfully disposed of at sea.

The crew from each vessel were detained and transported to Darwin. Fifteen crew were subsequently charged with offences against the Fisheries Management Act 1991 (Cth). All accused fishers pleaded guilty at Darwin Local Court on 11 April 2024, with findings of guilt recorded in each case. A range of financial penalties were imposed, with fines totaling AUD $31,300.

One accused fisher was arrested in accordance with an outstanding warrant for previous offending against the Fisheries Management Act 1991 (Cth). He is currently serving 19 days imprisonment on those matters.

Quotes attributable to AFMA’s General Manager, Fisheries Operations, Mr Justin Bathurst:
“Australia’s healthy fisheries are a target for illegal operators.

“Illegal fishing activity undermines the sustainability of Australia’s marine stocks and financially impacts Australia’s commercial fishing industry.”

“AFMA, along with our partner agencies, are committed to protecting Australian waters and our marine environment from the impacts of illegal fishing.”

Quotes attributable to Commander Maritime Border Command, Brett Sonter:
“The crews of vessels illegally fishing in Australian waters are on notice.”

“We will intercept your vessel, you will lose your catch, your equipment and even your vessel.”

“The seizure and disposal of illegal fishing vessels serves as a reminder to those seeking to exploit Australia’s marine resources that Australian authorities have zero tolerance for such illegal activity.”

Australian authorities are also using other measures to combat illegal fishing issue at its source, including the delivery of public information campaigns in fishing communities, distribution of educational material, targeted social media campaigns, and proactive engagement with fishers.

Illegal fishing activity in Australian waters can be reported to Australian authorities by contacting CRIMFISH on 1800 274 634 or [email protected].

For more information:
Media: [email protected] or 0437 869 860


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