Australia deploys new underwater technology to fight illegal fishing

Australia has deployed a new underwater technology across the Torres Strait aimed at combating illegal foreign fishing, according to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.

The Maritime Border Command (MBC), an agency within the Australian Border Force (ABF), was in charge of deploying the technology in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organizations (CSIRO), which developed the new hydrophones. The hydrophones are capable of detecting and logging vessel sounds, which can differentiate between different kinds of vessel activities.  

According to the statement, a total of five hydrophones were dropped to the ocean floor in strategic locations.

MBC Rear Admiral and Commander Lee Goddard said in a statement the technology is crucial to protecting Australia’s maritime domain, particularly in regard to illegal foreign fishing.

“Protecting Australia’s unique and rich maritime domain is one of the MBC’s core priorities,” Goddard said. “With illegal foreign fishing posing threats to sustainable fisheries management around the world, we are determined to do even more to protect Australia from this type of criminal activity."

The statement described the hydrophone as “an underwater microphone that can be used in real-time to listen to vessel traffic and behavior to assist in detecting activity, such as illegal fishing, and the movements of vessels involved in other illicit activities. About 15 centimeters long, the hydrophone is attached to a larger mooring device and submerged underwater so it remains completely covert.”

Goddard warned illegal fishers that they will be caught and prosecuted.

“The deployment of hydrophones in the Torres Strait will bolster and complement our strong presence in the region, and allow us to deploy resources quickly, and exactly where they are needed. Our message is do not even try – we will catch you and you will face the full force of the law when we do,” he said.

The statement added that CSIRO is bringing together artificial intelligence and low-cost hardware to deliver real time monitoring of activities at sea.

“Fisheries surveillance in the Torres Strait undertaken by MBC and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority is an effective and well developed partnership,” AFMA General Manager of Operations Peter Venslovas said. “The addition of innovative new tools and technology will be vital to enhancing our presence and assist in the detection of illegal fishing activities.”

Photo courtesy of the Australian Border Force


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