15 illegal foreign fishers apprehended near Deliverance Island

Australian Border Force (ABF) has apprehended 15 illegal foreign fishers and seized two foreign fishing vessels earlier this week, as operations targeting illegal fishing continue across the country’s north and northwest.

ABF’s Maritime Border Command (MBC), in partnership with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), detected and apprehended the Indonesian vessels found to be allegedly fishing illegally in the vicinity of Deliverance Island – also known as Warul Kawa Indigenous Protected Area – west of the Torres Strait, on Tuesday 18 June 2024.

The illegal fishing crews ​have been safely conveyed to Darwin and placed in fisheries detention while these matters are investigated, and prosecution considered.

The large fishing vessels were equipped with a substantial quantity of fishing equipment which could have significantly impacted Australia’s healthy fish stocks. The equipment and vessels were seized and will be lawfully disposed of by AFMA.

Commander MBC, Rear Admiral Brett Sonter, RAM, said this action should serve as a stern warning for any crew of vessels illegally fishing in Australian waters.

“If you fish illegally, you will lose your vessel, your equipment and you will be placed in immigration detention to face potential prosecution in Australian courts,” RADM Sonter said.

“The level of professionalism and commitment our officers are undertaking whilst working in difficult conditions demonstrates their commitment to protecting Australia’s marine environment and our most vital asset – our border,”

“Maritime Border Command is deploying multiple assets and utilising whatever powers available to deter, detect and take enforcement action in response to illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters. This process ensures a multi-layered approach to monitoring Australian waters using air, sea, littoral, and land assets combined with detection and enforcement effects.”

Chief Executive Officer, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Mr Wez Norris, said that while efforts to prevent illegal fishing at its source are ongoing, we remain focused on strong enforcement action to protect our precious marine resources.

“Australia’s healthy fisheries resources are an attractive target for illegal fishing operators. Therefore, AFMA and our partner agencies must remain focused on apprehending and prosecuting illegal fishers.”

Images of the intercept are available to download he​re​.

/Public Release. View in full here.