Over 3,000kg of illegal catch seized by ABF

A coordinated air, sea and land surveillance operation to combat increased illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters was conducted last month by Maritime Border Command (MBC), the Australian Border Force’s (ABF) joint agency command.

Targeted surveillance activities were conducted over 12 days in September throughout the Kimberley Marine Park (KMP), off the coast of Western Australia.

Known as Operation PALISADE, activities were supported by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, WA Fisheries and the Australian Defence Force’s Regional Force Surveillance Group, under Operation RESOLUTE.

During the 12-day operation in the KMP, officers intercepted 18 foreign fishing vessels and seized more than 3,000kg of trepang, 27 shark fins, 70kg of other fish and shark meat, countless pieces of fishing equipment, and more than 3,500kg of salt used by foreign fishers to preserve the catch.

MBC Commander Rear Admiral Justin Jones praised the co-operation of agencies to detect, deter and disrupt the exploitation of Australia’s natural resources.

“This is the first time we have conducted Operation PALISADE and we are reaping the rewards – we have gained significant intelligence about foreign fishers’ behaviour, disposed of some fishing vessels and seized a huge amount of their catch,” RADM Jones said.

“The seizures send a clear message to foreign fishers that stealing Australian resources will not be tolerated.

“I have been impressed by the professionalism, focus and drive of our forces, this would not have been achieved without outstanding cooperation and initiative from all agencies involved.”

MBC has observed a significant increase in illegal foreign fishing activity in the KMP in 2023, with vessels making increasingly regular and deep journeys into coastal waters. Rear Admiral Jones said that while Operation PALISADE has concluded, MBC continues to work with its partners to combat illegal fishing and take decisive action at every opportunity.

Members of the public can report suspicious border-related activity to Border Watch by visiting www.borderwatch.gov.au. Reports can be made anonymously.

All reports made from members of the public are investigated.

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