Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) has responded to an increase in reports of illegal foreign fishing vessels off the North Coast of Australia and reminded water users to report any suspicious vessels. ‘It’s concerning to see an increase in activity of illegal Indonesian fishers in Australian waters,’ said SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta.
‘The Australian seafood industry supports the Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s (AFMA) zero tolerance policy for such illegal activity. We commend AFMA for their interception of more than a hundred IUU fishing vessels since 1st July.
Maintaining surveillance is extremely important to the Australian seafood industry and we support the Australian Government’s proactive in-market campaign.
Furthermore, we encourage industry and any other water users to proactively report any suspicious or foreign fishing vessel sightings to the relevant authorities,’ she said.
Maritime Border Command (MBC), a joint agency taskforce enabled by the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has set up Operation Jawline, a targeted operation to combat IUU and to counter the recent increase in incursions by foreign fishing vessels operating in Australian waters. Expanded operations to counter incursions by Indonesian FFVs includes additional vessel patrol activity by MBC vessels, supported by aerial surveillance flights.
‘Most recently our efforts have been boosted by joint operations between AFMA officers and Marine Officers from the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Fisheries, utilising their large offshore patrol vessel,’ the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) stated.
Between 1st July 2021 and 15th October this year, Operation Jawline has resulted in the destruction of 15 illegal foreign fishing vessels as well as the seizure of fishing equipment and catch from an additional 86 vessels. Indonesian vessels coming into the AFZ have been targeting beche-de-mer (sea cucumber) around Cartier, Ashmore and Scott Reef in waters off north Western Australia and further south at Rowley Shoals.
‘As an industry our priority is the ocean. It’s our future and the future of generations to come,’ Veronica Papacosta said.