The skipper of an Indonesian illegal fishing vessel has been fined AU$17,360 in the Darwin Local Court for offences under the Fisheries Management Act 1991.
The vessel was apprehended northeast of Darwin, Northern Territory, on 3rd November 2019 after being sighted illegally fishing in Australian waters. The vessel was intercepted by the Australian Border Force (ABF) cutter Cape Jervis approximately two nautical miles inside the Australian Fishing Zone.
An illegal catch of shark skins, fins and fresh flesh was found on board in a search by ABF officers tasked by Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency taskforce within the ABF, in a joint operation with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).
In addition to the fines, the skipper’s vessel was confiscated and destroyed.
AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said while Australian authorities have worked hard to drastically reduce the level of illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters some still choose to do the wrong thing.
‘The number of illegal foreign fishing boats caught in Australian waters has gone from a surge in activity to what is now just a trickle,’ he said.
‘Illegal foreign fishing boat numbers have plummeted from a record high of over 360 apprehensions in 2005-06, to just five in 2018-19, which is primarily due to joint efforts by Australian authorities. This has involved the apprehension and prosecution of offenders, the confiscation and destruction of vessels, the delivery of in-country education and capacity building programmes and co-operation with regional partners to tackle illegal fishing collectively.’