Two Vietnamese vessels have been apprehended over the weekend in waters off North Queensland for suspected illegal fishing in Australian waters.
Maritime Border Command (MBC), within the Australian Border Force, made the apprehensions in cooperation with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) following a report from the Queensland Police Service.
Officers detained 28 crew members, a large amount of hookah (diving) gear and what is suspected to be illegally caught bêche-de-mer.
The apprehension involved a coordinated air and surface response. A Queensland Police vessel initially sighted the two fishing vessels south east of Cape Direction, and following contact with MBC, with an Australian Border Force Dash-8 aircraft was able to locate and identify the vessels, beforeHMAS Childers and ABFC Roebuck Bay boarded and apprehended the vessels shortly after.
The vessels were towed to Cairns this morning where further investigations will be undertaken by AFMA and any offenders prosecuted.
Commander MBC, Rear Admiral Peter Laver, commended the joint efforts of MBC and AFMA officers who continue to work tirelessly, including during the Easter period, to ensure Australia’s waters remain free from illegal fishing.
“Australia’s waters are an important economic resource and it is important that our fisheries are maintained and protected,” Rear Admiral Laver said.
“While most of us enjoyed a break over the long weekend, our officers at sea, and in the air, were hard at work in making these apprehensions.”
AFMA General Manager, Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas said the apprehension of these boats is a reminder that Australia must remain vigilant when it comes to protecting its marine resources.
“AFMA will continue to work with MBC to ensure illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing does not occur in Australian waters,” Mr Venslovas said.
More information on how Australia is working to combat illegal fishing can be found at afma.gov.au.