Australian Border Force arrests 15 illegal fishers, seizes two foreign boats in Australian waters

Hannah Cross
The Nightly
Australian Border Force (ABF) has apprehended 15 illegal foreign fishers and seized two foreign fishing vessels earlier this week, as operations targeting illegal fishing continue across the country's north and northwest.
Australian Border Force (ABF) has apprehended 15 illegal foreign fishers and seized two foreign fishing vessels earlier this week, as operations targeting illegal fishing continue across the country's north and northwest. Credit: Australian Border Force/Australian Border Force

The Australian Border Force has arrested 15 suspected illegal foreign fishers in its ongoing crackdown on illegal fishing in Australian waters.

Authorities from the ABF’s Maritime Border Command and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority detected two Indonesian vessels on Tuesday in the Warul Kawa Indigenous Protected Area, west of the Torres Strait

The protected area is just 34km south of Papua New Guinea and about 200km north of Thursday Island, or Waiben, but is still part of Australia’s National Reserve System.

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The massive boats were equipped with a substantial amount of fishing gear, prompting authorities to seize both foreign vessels and the equipment. AFMA will lawfully dispose of the boats and equipment.

Australian Border Force (ABF) has apprehended 15 illegal foreign fishers and seized two foreign fishing vessels earlier this week, as operations targeting illegal fishing continue across the country's north and northwest.
Australian Border Force (ABF) has apprehended 15 illegal foreign fishers and seized two foreign fishing vessels earlier this week, as operations targeting illegal fishing continue across the country's north and northwest. Credit: Australian Border Force/Australian Border Force
Australian Border Force (ABF) has apprehended 15 illegal foreign fishers and seized two foreign fishing vessels earlier this week, as operations targeting illegal fishing continue across the country's north and northwest.
Australian Border Force (ABF) has apprehended 15 illegal foreign fishers and seized two foreign fishing vessels earlier this week, as operations targeting illegal fishing continue across the country's north and northwest. Credit: Australian Border Force/Australian Border Force

Fifteen fishers were arrested and sent to fisheries detention in Darwin as the incident was investigated and prosecution considered.

Maritime Border Command Commander, Rear Admiral Brett Sonter, said the swift action of the ABF and AFMA should serve as a stern warning for any crews illegally fishing in Australian waters.

“If you fish illegally, you will lose your vessel, your equipment and you will be placed in immigration detention to face potential prosecution in Australian courts,” RADM Sonter said.

He said the border command was “deploying multiple assets” to “deter, detect and take enforcement action” in response to illegal fishing.

“This process ensures a multi-layered approach to monitoring Australian waters using air, sea, littoral, and land assets combined with detection and enforcement effects,” the rear admiral said.

AFMA chief executive Wez Norris said efforts to prevent illegal fishing at its source were ongoing in order to protect the country’s precious marine resources.

“Australia’s healthy fisheries resources are an attractive target for illegal fishing operators. Therefore, AFMA and our partner agencies must remain focused on apprehending and prosecuting illegal fishers.”

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