Last month, Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) fisheries officers based in Torres Strait investigated four fishing vessels suspected of gear and licencing breaches under the Torres Strait Fisheries ACT.
Information from AFMA’s vessel monitoring system (VMS) provided accurate data on the vessels position, course and speed allowing fisheries officers to track the fishers.
Three vessels were ordered back to port on Thursday Island and one vessel voluntarily returned, where initial investigations were then conducted. The identified licencing issues were rectified and the masters were educated on how to comply with fisheries regulations and requirements. The vessels were later released. Further investigations are ongoing.
AFMA recognises the current challenges facing fisherman operating in the Torres Strait and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic however, it is important that fishers follow the rules and regulations to ensure the sustainability of Torres Strait fisheries.
AFMA has made some changes to day-to-day compliance operations however; compliance officers continue to monitor fishing operations.
If anyone suspects illegal fishing they should call the CRIMFISH hotline 1800 274 634.