Aussie officials thwart illegal fishers

Officers from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority have joined with international law enforcement groups to thwart an illegal fishing vessel's attempt to offload its catch in Asia.

In a statement AFMA said the foreign vessel, known as the 'Thunder,' had been changing its name and flag in order to avoid detection and deceive authorities.


Despite the ship's efforts Australian authorities tracked the vessel to south-east Asia, and requested local officials deny the boat access to a Malaysian port.


“After being refused access to the port of Penang, the boat then tried to dock in Indonesia where it was boarded by Indonesian authorities assisted by officers from the AFMA. The boat was refused access and other ports in the region are on alert,” AFMA said.


AFMA general manager of operations Peter Venslovas said the action was an “excellent example” of authorities working together to destroy the business model of illegal fishing.


“Illegal fishing is becoming less viable. By cutting off the market end of illegal fishing operations, those responsible are finding it increasingly difficult to offload their catch, which will hurt them where it hurts most – in their hip pocket,” he said.


AFMA said since 2004 no illegal, unreported, and unregulated boats had been detected in Australian southern waters, but the threat remained from vessels engaging in operations outside of Australian territory.


“These vessels fish in the Southern Ocean and use south-east Asian ports to unload their illegal catch and re-supply. The operations are highly organised, mobile and elusive,” the authority said.

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