Illegal Indonesian fishing vessel intercepted and destroyed at sea by Australian authorities | Ralph-Lauren

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An Indonesian fishing vessel has been destroyed at sea after it and two others were caught fishing illegally off the WA coast.

The three vessels were intercepted at the weekend by a joint task force organised by the Australian Border Force and the Australian Defence Force in the Ashmore Reef Marine Park — a sanctuary zone about 840km west of Darwin.

Authorities from the ABF, the Maritime Border Command and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority seized about 179kg of trepang (sea cucumber) and 5kg of fresh fish after boarding the ships.

Fishing equipment from the vessels was also taken.

One of the ship’s was “disposed of at sea in accordance with Australian law”, the the ABF said today.

The crew from that ship transferred to the other two vessels before being escorted out of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone.

Ashmore Reef Marine Park is about 630km north of Broome in the Australian External Territory of the Ashmore and Cartier islands.

Thousands of nesting sea birds on Ashmore Reef.
Camera IconThousands of nesting sea birds on Ashmore Reef. Credit: WA News

It spans 583sqkm and is a sanctuary for species including birds, turtles and dugongs.

MBC Rear Admiral Mark Hill said that while illegal foreign fishing attempts had waned in recent years, the operation proved that the threat remained.

“Across the region, foreign fishing fleets are moving from their usual fishing grounds to explore and exploit new ones,” he said.

Rear Admiral Mark Hill.
Camera IconRear Admiral Mark Hill. Credit: SGT Kirk Peacock/Commonwealth of Australia

“This operation highlights the critical work undertaken by the ABF, AFMA and MBC to protect the Australian maritime border by safeguarding our marine wildlife and natural resources.

“Our message to unauthorised foreign fishers is simple: We will intercept you, you will lose your catch, your equipment and possibly even your vessel.

“We are committed to protecting Australia’s maritime domain from a range of potential threats, including illegal attempts to fish in our marine parks.”

AFMA’s general manager operations Peter Venslovas said the outcome was positive.

“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,” he said.

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