Media Release

Illegal fishing boats destroyed

23 October 2013

Three illegal fishing vessels were destroyed today after being apprehended in Northern Australian waters recently, with Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, highlighting the significant threat the vessels could pose to Australia’s fishing industry and biosecurity.

The fishing vessels were destroyed following a combined effort by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), HMAS Wollongong and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS).

“As the regulator of Australian fisheries, AFMA has worked quickly and effectively in collaboration with ACBPS and HMAS Wollongong to secure our borders and minimise the risks these vessels pose,” Minister Joyce said.

The boats from Indonesia were intercepted on 11 October with a quantity of fresh reef fish species found on board.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, said it was important to continue patrolling Australia’s fishing zones.

“Illegal fishing operations can impact negatively on our valuable fishing industry and it is important that the sustainability of Australia’s fish stocks is protected from these illegal operations,” Senator Colbeck said.

The ongoing work of AFMA and ACBPS in deterring illegal fishing in Australian waters has seen a large decline in the number of vessels being apprehended, with 367 vessels apprehended in 2005–06 and only five apprehended to date in 2013–14.

Minister Joyce also highlighted the significant biosecurity risks associated with illegal fishing vessels.

“The risk of dangerous pests and diseases making their way to Australia on these vessels is of great concern, so their quick detection and apprehension is vital,” Minister Joyce said.

“I understand the boats were destroyed by fire today to eliminate any possibility of biosecurity risks.”