Australian authorities are continuing to clamp down on illegal fishing in the country’s territorial waters off the Top End of the continent.
The Australian Border Force announced at the weekend that in May alone it intercepted 19 Indonesian fishing vessels and destroyed three of them. It is not known if this figure includes the three fishing boats intercepted – and one destroyed – noted in an official statement from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority last week.
According to the Border Force statement, three of its Cape-class patrol boats monitored an area in the vicinity of Ashmore Islands, Cartier Islet and Scott Reef, more than 800 kilometres west of Darwin. It is here that the interceptions took place.
Almost 1,000kg of marine life seized from boats
Approximately 860 kilograms of trepang (sea cucumber) was seized from the Indonesian vessels and 105 kilograms of fresh fish. Also seized was fishing equipment, navigation aids and petrol.
Three of the vessels were seized and disposed of at sea under Australian law, with their crew transferred to other vessels before being escorted outside of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the ABF said.
The latest operation, codenamed Operation Jawline, was timed to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing on 5 June.
The operation was coordinated by Maritime Border Command (MBC), a joint-agency taskforce within the Border Force, with close involvement from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.
MBC Commander, Rear Admiral Mark Hill, said Australia strongly supported the UN day marking the issue of illegal fishing, noting the significant toll this illegal activity has on economies and the marine environments.
Illegal and unreported fishing is a serious problem
“Globally, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing is a significant environmental issue,” Hill stated.
The United Nations says fisheries provide a vital source of food, employment, recreation, trade and economic well-being for people throughout the world.
“In a world of growing population and persistent hunger, fish has emerged as an important commodity for the achievement of food security. However, efforts by the international community to ensure the sustainability of fisheries are being seriously compromised by illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities,” it said.
“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities are responsible for the loss of 11-26 million tonnes of fish each year, which is estimated to have an economic value of US$10-23-billion.
“To curtail this impact, Target 4 of Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Agenda adopted in 2015 by the UN General Assembly, specifically urges the international community to ‘effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices’.”