Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) has issued a statement expressing concern about the increase in reports of foreign vessels fishing illegally off Australia's north coast.
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) – working in conjunction with the Maritime Border Command, the Australian Border Force, and the Australian Defence Force – destroyed 15 foreign fishing vessels found to be fishing illegally, and seized fishing equipment and catches from an additional 86 vessels between between 1 July and 15 October, 2021. The task force is in the midst of “Operation JAWLINE,” which seeks to respond to increased incursions by foreign vessels into Australian waters.
In a statement, AFMA said Indonesian vessels fishing in Australian waters have been targeting beche-de-mer, or sea cucumber, around Cartier, Ashmore, and Scott Reef in waters off Northwestern Australia and further south at Rowley Shoals.
“The Australian seafood industry supports the Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s zero-tolerance policy for such illegal activity. We commend AFMA for their interception of more than 100 illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels since 1 July,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said. “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.”
AFMA and other Australian government agencies, including the Australian Border Force, are coordinating with Indonesian officials to distribute fisheries enforcement chartlets, translated into Indonesian languages, to fishing communities in the ports of Kupang and on the island of Rote in East Nusa Tenggara Province. The chartlets are designed to educate Indonesian communities on the risks of fishing illegally in Australian waters.
“Our message to foreign fishers that choose to fish outside the rules is simple: We will intercept you, you will lose your catch, your equipment, and possibly even your vessel,” AFMA said. “The seizure of fishing gear and disposal of vessels serves as a reminder to those seeking to exploit Australia’s marine resources that Australian authorities have zero tolerance for such illegal activity.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia