Support for strong stance on illegal foreign fishing

April 23, 2014

The Coalition supports a strong stance on illegal fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck said.

Senator Colbeck said the recent apprehension of a suspected illegal foreign fishing vessel with 500kg of fish on board highlights the important work the Australian Government undertakes to protect Australia's marine life and sustainable fisheries industry.

"The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), working closely with Border Protection Command (BPC), apprehended a foreign fishing vessel suspected of fishing illegally in the Australian Fishing Zone approximately 275 nautical miles west of Darwin", Senator Colbeck said.

"This apprehension comes on the back of the recent seizure of four illegal foreign fishing vessels and prosecution of the crew who had taken large quantities of threatened giant clams."

Senator Colbeck said strong enforcement measures have been the key to combating illegal fishing.

"The combined effect of Australia's apprehension and forfeiture of vessels, catch and fishing gear directly impacts on the profitability of illegal fishing operators and is a robust deterrent," he said.

Senator Colbeck said AFMA plays an important role in regulating illegal foreign fishing in Australia, which poses potential biosecurity risks and impacts on our valuable fisheries resources and the environments that support them.

"Illegal foreign fishing vessels have the potential to take tonnes of fisheries products and inflict heavy damage to our marine ecosystems. This apprehension sends a strong message to other potential offenders that you will be caught and face prosecution if you fish illegally in Australian waters," Senator Colbeck said.

Senator Colbeck said the Australian Government will continue to co-operate and build on the strong working relationships with other agencies to reduce illegal fishing activity.

Regular patrols of Australia's maritime borders are a strong deterrent to illegal foreign fishers and the amount of illegal fishing has decreased significantly from 367 vessels in 2005-06 to seven vessels in 2012-13. During this financial year twenty one apprehensions have occurred.

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