$389 Million Crackdown On Illegal Fishing

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$389 Million Crackdown On Illegal Fishing



The Treasurer joined with the Minister for Fisheries, Senator Eric Abetz, in Darwin today to observe first-hand the issues associated with illegal fishing in Australia’s northern waters, including the destruction of a recently captured boat.

The 2006-07 Budget provided almost $389 million over four years to fund a broad range of activities aimed at combating illegal fishing in Australia’s northern waters. These initiatives will more than double the number of illegal fishing boats apprehended in Australian waters. The latest funding brings the Government’s total commitment to fighting illegal fishing to well over half a billion dollars.

Part of the package will include establishment of specially designed boat destruction facilities at five ports across northern Australia.

Destroying vessels is the strongest deterrent to illegal fishermen because it hits the illegal fishing industry in the hip pocket. Apprehending and destroying enough illegal fishing vessels will eventually make it financially unviable for illegal fishermen.

The additional resources provided by the Australian Government will meet the costs associated with the apprehension, transportation, processing and accommodation of the several thousand extra fishermen likely to be detained each year. It will also fund the expansion of fishing boat management and the additional investigations and prosecutions.

As part of the new package, a single command centre – the Joint Offshore Protection Command (JOPC) – will undertake planning, surveillance, intelligence analysis and deployments will facilitate a coordinated, whole-of-government focus on illegal fishing in particular, and maritime security more generally.

The 2006-07 Budget initiatives include:

  • $24.9 million for the establishment of a rapid long-range helicopter response capability to more effectively deal with foreign vessel landings and abandoned boats
  • $65.9 million for the upgrading of the processing facility for foreign fishermen in Broome, the establishment of facilities in Gove (Nhulunbuy) and Weipa, and modifications to the facility in the Torres Strait, and the construction and operation of 5 new boat-destruction facilities at Darwin, Gove, Horn Island, Broome and Weipa
  • $9.6 million over four years from 2006-07 for increased intelligence support for Australia’s on-shore surveillance and interdiction capabilities, and to provide greater support to policy, intelligence and enforcement agencies engaged in fisheries compliance and maritime enforcement.
  • $18.5 million over three years from 2006-07 to enhance charting of the Torres Strait and northern Great Barrier Reef to enable Defence and Customs vessels and other enforcement agency vessels to navigate reliably in previously uncharted waters where illegal activity may occur
  • $2.0 million for the establishment of a dedicated patrol/response vessel stationed in the northern waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • $14 million to fund the use of civilian charter vessels to tow apprehended illegal foreign fishing vessels to shore, as required
  • $6.9 million to engage indigenous community groups to help monitor the bio-security risks from illegal foreign fishing vessels, with a review of the programme in 12 months
  • $6.3 million for increased officer training and equipment on Customs patrol boats to address the risks associated with boardings of foreign fishing vessels, and the establishment of a project team to bring forward the replacement of the Customs fleet, and
  • $1.4 million to maintain our ongoing commitment to the High Seas Task Force on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

The Budget announcement complements current initiatives developed in consultation with Indonesia to discourage illegal foreign fishing at its source.

Additional officers from Customs, the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will be deployed to Jakarta to work with Indonesian regulatory and enforcement agencies in addressing this problem, including a permanent Counsellor in Jakarta to provide a focus for liaison with the central government.

As part of developing a cooperative strategy with Indonesia, Australia will also fund a major public information campaign in Indonesia to build a better understanding of the problems that illegal fishing causes for both countries.

The Government will also examine toughening penalties for those convicted of illegal foreign fishing, including custodial sentences for those apprehended in Australian territorial waters.


16 May 2006

Contact: David Alexander

0418 210 601