15 arrested for ‘illegal’ fishing on Indonesian vessels in Australia

Canberra:  Australian authorities have arrested 15 foreign fishers and seized two Indonesian vessels over alleged illegal fishing activity off the country’s north coast.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) and Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) on Saturday said it detected and apprehended the Indonesian vessels allegedly fishing illegally on Tuesday in the vicinity of Deliverance Island in the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG), reports Xinhua news agency.

The crew were transported to Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT), and were placed in detention while the matter was being investigated and prosecution considered.

In a joint statement, the ABF and AFMA said that the large vessels were equipped with a substantial quantity of fishing equipment. Both vessels will be disposed of by the AFMA.

Under Australian law, anyone found guilty of illegally fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) faces a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

Rear Admiral Brett Sonter, Commander of the ABF’s Maritime Border Command (MBC), said that Tuesday’s intercept should serve as a warning to 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,” he said. “Maritime Border Command is deploying multiple assets and utilising whatever powers available to deter, detect and take enforcement action in response to illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters.”

Fifteen illegal fishers who were apprehended on board three Indonesian vessels in separate incidents in March were in April issued fines totalling 31,300 Australian dollars ($20,868.9) after pleading guilty to offences against the Fisheries Management Act in the Darwin Local Court.


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