Coinciding with the United Nations’ International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, illegal foreign fishing vessels in Australia’s northern waters have been targeted in a two-week operation.
Operation Jawline was coordinated by Maritime Border Command (MBC), a joint-agency taskforce within the Australian Border Force (ABF), with close involvement from Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).
Three ABF Cape class patrol boats monitored an area in the vicinity of Ashmore Islands, Cartier Islet and Scott Reef, more than 800 kilometres west of Darwin, intercepting 19 Indonesian fishing vessels over the period in May.
Approximately 860 kilograms of trepang (sea cucumber) was seized and 105 kilograms of fresh fish product. Also seized was fishing equipment, navigation aids and petrol.
Three of the vessels were seized and disposed of at sea under Australian law, with their crew transferred to other vessels before being escorted outside of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
MBC Commander, Rear Admiral Mark Hill, said that Australia strongly supported the UN day marking the issue of illegal fishing on 5 June, noting the significant toll this illegal activity has on economies and the marine environments.
“It’s true that here in Australia, illegal foreign fishing attempts have decreased in recent years thanks to a strong presence and action from government agencies, however this operation proves the threat of illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters remains,” Rear Admiral Hill said.
“Globally, Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing is a significant environmental issue. Our message to unauthorised foreign fishers in Australian waters is simple. We will target you, we will intercept you, you will lose your catch, your equipment and possibly even your vessel,” Rear Admiral Hill said.
“We are committed to protecting Australia’s maritime domain from a range of potential threats, including illegal attempts to fish in our marine parks,” Rear Admiral Hill said.