Illegal foreign fishing vessel apprehended north of Gove in Australian waters

Joint media release Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Australian Fisheries Management Authority

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) in partnership with the Australian Border Force (ABF) has apprehended an Indonesian fishing vessel suspected of fishing illegally inside Australia’s Fishing Zone (AFZ), approximately 170 nautical miles north of Gove, Northern Territory.

On 23 April 2019, the vessel was sighted inside the AFZ by a Maritime Border Command (MBC) surveillance aircraft. MBC, a multi-agency taskforce within the ABF, responded to AFMA’s request to intercept.

On April 24 2019, MBC tasked HMAS Armidale to respond and the vessel was subsequently boarded and apprehended and under the Maritime Powers Act 2013.

Acting Commander MBC, Commodore Malcolm Wise, said officers from HMAS Armidale boarded the fishing vessel and found 14 crew, 800 kilograms of frozen fish, and 20 kilograms of shark fins on board.

“The ABF, through MBC, maintains a strong, agile presence around Australia’s coastline to detect and respond to, any civil maritime security threats in Australian waters including Illegal Foreign Fishing,” Commodore Wise said.

“This apprehension is a testament to our strong on-water and aerial presence protecting Australia’s borders year round.”

The vessel and crew were brought to Darwin by HMAS Maryborough for further investigation by AFMA on Monday 29 April 2019.

AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said the crew will be placed in detention, while investigations are conducted to determine whether charges will be laid.

“The fate of the vessel will be determined in due course, which may involve destruction by incineration.

“This financial year, only three illegal foreign fishing vessels have been found operating in Australian waters, which is significantly down from a decade ago, when more than 350 vessels were apprehended in one year.

“A combination of on-the-water enforcement, in-country education campaigns, international cooperation and capacity building, has led to the dramatic decline in numbers, but has not removed the risk to Australia’s fisheries – hence the need for ongoing vigilance through avenues such as MBC, ” Mr Venslovas said.

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