Eight Indonesian illegal fishers pleaded guilty in a Darwin Magistrates Court last week for offences of illegal fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) last month. Their three vessels were destroyed by fire at a Darwin destruction facility.
The fishers, and the three vessels, were apprehended in waters north-west of Darwin on 9 November 2017 in a joint operation by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency task force within the Australian Border Force, incorporating the Australian Defence Force.
All eight crew were first-time offenders and received 12-month good behaviour bonds. In addition, the three masters also received $1 000 fines to be paid to the Commonwealth.
AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said that those caught illegally fishing in Australian waters will face the consequences.
“The outcome from this matter is a good demonstration of Australia’s stance on illegal fishing – that those who choose to do the wrong thing will be investigated and face penalties,” Mr Venslovas said.
“In addition to whole of Australian government efforts, collaborative in-country education programs are also proving effective in combatting and preventing illegal fishing, with only six vessels caught since 1 July 2017.”
Commander MBC Rear Admiral Peter Laver said this is another successful outcome following Australian Government agencies’ concerted efforts to detect and stop illegal fishing in Australian waters.
“The marine life within our territories is of great value to foreign fishers, but as this outcome demonstrates, these criminals should always assume we are nearby and we are watching.”
“Illegal fishing threatens the sustainability of our unique marine environment and we continue to work with our partners to protect Australia’s valuable marine resources.”
Source: Australian Fisheries Management Authority www.afma.gov.au