Five fishers plead guilty for illegal activity in Australian waters

Five Indonesian nationals have pleaded guilty to fishing illegally in Australian waters at Darwin Local Court on 28 and 30 May 2024.

On Monday 6 May 2024, Australian authorities located, intercepted and apprehended an Indonesian vessel fishing illegally in Australian waters approximately 65 nautical miles inside the Australian Fishing Zone.

Australian authorities seized a catch of 70 kilograms of assorted fish along with a range of equipment including reef walking shoes, a quantity of fishing line, hooks, nets and 40 kilograms of salt (used for preserving catch). The vessel was seized and lawfully disposed of, whilst the crew were detained and transported to Darwin.

The fishers were charged with offences against the Fisheries Management Act 1991 (Cth). All accused fishers pleaded guilty at Darwin Local Court with fishers receiving a good behaviour recognisance orders for periods ranging between two to five years.

One accused fisher will complete a three-month term of imprisonment following execution of an outstanding warrant arising from previous offending. 

AFMA, in partnership with Maritime Border Command, a multi-agency task force which includes Australian Border Force and Australian Defence Force, continues to target illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters to protect our precious marine resources.

Australian authorities are also using other measures to combat illegal fishing at its source, including the delivery of public information campaigns in Indonesian fishing communities, distribution of educational material, targeted social media campaigns, and proactive engagement with fishers.

Quotes attributable to AFMA’s General Manager, Fisheries Operations, Mr Justin Bathurst:

“Australia’s healthy fisheries will continue to be a target for illegal fishing operators. Although this threat persists, AFMA and our partner agencies remain committed to apprehending and prosecuting illegal fishers.”​

Quotes attributable to Commander Maritime Border Command, Rear Admiral Brett Sonter:

“Illegal fishing is a key driver of global overfishing, and threatens marine ecosystems. 

“The combined efforts of MBC and partner agencies such as AFMA enables surveillance, patrol and response capabilities to combat illegal activity and threats to Australia’s border.

“The seizure of fishing gear and disposal of vessels serves as a reminder to those seeking to exploit Australia’s marine resources that Australian authorities have zero tolerance for such illegal activity.” 

/Public Release. View in full here.