Illegal fishing boats caught – THREE illegal Indonesian-flagged fishing vessels caught off Arnhem Land this week are being escorted to Darwin.
Australian Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald today revealed the “ice boats” were stopped on Monday inside the Australian fishing zone, north west of the Wessel Islands.
The boats had attempted to flee Australian waters but were apprehended by the Navy patrol vessel HMAS Bendigo, Senator Macdonald said.
He said the vessels, fitted with modern navigational and fishing equipment, had more than five tonnes of reef fish on board.
“Ice boats are much larger than the fishing vessels usually apprehended in northern waters and have the ability to store large quantities of fish on board,” Senator Macdonald said.
“One of the vessels had over three tonnes of reef fish on its own.
“The discovery of this amount of fish highlights the increasingly commercial nature of these illegal fishing operations.”
The boats were being escorted to Darwin, where Australian Fisheries Management Authority officers would conduct further investigations.
Senator Macdonald said the boats’ crews would be transferred to South Australia’s Baxter detention centre.
Those charged as a result of the Fisheries investigations would face court in SA, while others would be repatriated as soon as possible, he said.
So far this year 114 illegal vessels have been caught in Australian waters.