The Albanese and Palaszczuk Governments are tackling illegal foreign fishing in the Torres Strait, with a successful 8-day joint operation completed.
Operation V was conducted in April with the aim of deterring illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone off the tip of Cape York.
The operation was the first international, multi-agency patrol of the Torres Strait led by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), alongside the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP), Queensland Police Service (QPS), Maritime Border Command, Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority (PNG NFA).
QBFP flagship vessel the KI Ross, ABF’s fast response vessel, Maritime Border Command’s aerial surveillance capability, and a PNG NFA patrol vessel were all involved in Operation V.
The KI Ross is a 24-metre vessel powered by twin V12, 1100-horsepower engines, that underwent a major refit last year.
The operation provided an increased enforcement presence and strong deterrent to illegal fishers operating in the region.
The patrol engaged with a range of fishers, including PNG Treaty villagers undertaking traditional fishing in line with the Torres Strait Treaty, and inspections of local fishers.
Australia has a long history of working with the PNG NFA to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in Australian waters, ensuring fish stocks throughout the Torres Strait are managed sustainably and maritime security is maintained.
Quotes attributable to Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt:
“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a major contributor to global overfishing, which threatens marine ecosystems and puts food security and regional stability at risk. It is also linked to human rights violations and organised crime.
“The Albanese Government is committed to combating IUU fishing in the Torres Strait through a comprehensive, multifaceted approach that includes direct domestic and international action, and bilateral, regional, and global cooperation.
“All PNG and Australian vessels boarded during the operation were found to be fishing legally. The fact that illegal vessels avoided the area highlights the strength of this high visibility operation in deterring illegal inclusions, particularly through the presence of both Australian and PNG authorities.”
Quotes attributable to Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner:
“Queensland fisheries belong to Queenslanders, and Queenslanders expect them to be protected from illegal poachers and black marketers,” Minister Furner said.
“We are well advanced in implementing our Sustainable Fisheries Strategy, which means sustainable fish stocks into the future and protecting good jobs for people who rely on commercial, recreational and charter fishing.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Cook Cynthia Lui:
“Protecting fish stocks in the Torres Strait means protecting the way of life and livelihoods of Torres Strait Islanders,” Ms Lui said.
“The Palaszczuk Government has put in place tough laws to ensure Queensland fish stocks are protected for our children and our grandchildren.”
Quotes attributable to Torres Strait Regional Authority Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM:
“We welcome the international, multi-agency patrol in deterring illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the Torres Strait region,” Mr Stephen said.
“Our communities have been raising illegal fishing concerns and the need to address these matters quickly.
“Fishing is a critical source of income, food on the table and part of our traditional way of life across the Torres Strait.”