Australian Navy arrests two foreign fishing vessels in territorial waters

Royal Australian Navy patrol boat HMAS Wollongong helped seize two foreign fishing vessels, believed to be Vietnamese, in waters off far North Queensland for suspected illegal fishing.

Maritime Border Command within the Australian Border Force, made the apprehensions on June 21 near Dianne Bank in a coordinated effort with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.

During the inspection, officers found diving gear to support multiple teams of divers, approximately 8.7 tonnes of bêche-de-mer, a quantity of turtle meat, and coral and reef fish suspected to have been caught illegally.

According to the Australian Navy, twenty-six crew members believed to be Vietnamese nationals have been detained and were escorted to Cairns, where further investigations will be undertaken by Fisheries Management staff.

General Manager Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said as regional governments crack down on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, Australia’s well-managed fisheries become enticing for illegal foreign fishing.

“Australia’s fisheries are some of the best managed in the world and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing undermines both the economic and environmental sustainability of our marine resources,” Venslovas said.

These latest apprehensions follow two Vietnamese vessels and 30 crew apprehended at the beginning of the month for suspected illegal fishing on Lihou Reef in the coral sea, and convictions in May of four Indonesian fishers for illegally fishing for shark fin in Australia’s northern waters.