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An AU$4000 fine has been handed down to the skipper of an Indonesian fishing vessel apprehended in Australian waters. Image: AFMA

The skipper of an Indonesian fishing vessel apprehended off the coast of Darwin, Northern Territory, was sentenced in Darwin Local Court for illegal fishing in Australian waters. Following a guilty plea to charges under the Fisheries Management Act 1991, he was fined AU$4000.

The vessel was apprehended on 20 October approximately 4.9 nautical miles inside the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) in a joint operation by Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency taskforce within the Australian Border Force, and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).

Under the command of MBC, Australian Defence Force vessel HMAS Maitland intercepted the vessel after being sighted up to 40 nautical miles inside the AFZ and, later, hauling fishing line aboard. A small quantity of fresh tuna was found on board in a search of the vessel.

AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said this latest illegal foreign fishing case serves as a reminder that those who seek to exploit Australian marine resources will be caught.

‘While illegal foreign fishing offences are trending down from 14 apprehensions in 2017-18 and five in 2018-19, Australian authorities remain vigilant in detecting and combating illegal fishing activity in Australian waters,’ he said.

Commander MBC, Rear Admiral Lee Goddard, said the ABF maintains a robust presence in Australia’s waters and around its vast coastline to detect, deter and respond to civil maritime security threats such as illegal fishing.

‘When threats to Australia’s waters are identified, we call upon our maritime assets such as HMAS Maitland to quickly respond,’ RADM Goddard said.

‘We maintain a strong operational response capability to protect Australia’s marine life and our fishing industry from the threats of illegal fishing operations.’