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Illegal boats go up in flames in NT.



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Illegal boats go up in flames in NT

The Australian Government has made a fiery statement about how serious it views its border incursions with five illegal fishing vessels going up in flames in Darwin today.

Australian Fisheries and Conservation Minister Senator Ian Macdonald said all five boats were caught fishing illegally well inside Australia's northern waters this year, with several crew members already charged with offences in Court.

"The problem of illegal fishing in our waters is viewed very seriously by the Howard Government and we will continue to take a strong approach to stamp it out," Senator Macdonald said.

"If an illegal fishing charge is upheld by our court system, and a bond is not paid, the vessel becomes the property of the Commonwealth and is often destroyed. Our strong approach shows these fishermen who breach our borders that we mean business in protecting our sovereignty."

Senator Macdonald said the Australian Government used a combination of apprehensions and equipment forfeitures to protect our well managed fish stocks.

"Whether we take their gear and send them packing or forfeit their boats, the Australian Government is sending a message to these illegal fishermen that we are serious about protecting our borders and our fish stocks," Senator Macdonald said.

The masters and some senior crew members of three of the vessels have already been found guilty of fishing illegally inside Australia's Fishing Zone, while others from the remaining two boats are expected to face court next week.

Two of the vessels were apprehended during Australia's largest ever air and sea operation targeting border incursions by foreign fishing boats, known as Operation Clearwater, which netted 29 illegal fishing boats.

"Both of these vessels attempted to avoid capture but were undone due to the good work of Australian authorities," Senator Macdonald said. "It is important to note that on one of the vessels, Fisheries officers found fishing charts, a compass and GPS records. It is proof that these are not lost Indonesian fishermen. They are criminals who are coming into Australia's well-managed waters to make a quick buck and we must continue our strong presence."

The vessels destroyed are:

DAFF05/134M 9 July 2005

22/08/2005 http://www.mffc.gov.au/releases/2005/05134m.html

z Tiara Jaya (located off Arnehm Land on 15 April during Operation Clearwater

z Adik Pusing (located off the Wessel Islands on April 20 during Clearwater

z Subur Abadi (located off Arnehm Land on May 12

z Odang Jaya (located off Crocodile Island on June 21)

z Sumber Abadi (located off Crocodile Island on June 21)

Since the start of 2005, there have been 107 vessels apprehended for fishing illegally in Australian waters.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald’s office: David Crisafulli (07) 4771 3066 or 0400 144 483

http://www.mffc.gov.au/releases/2005/05134m.html

© Commonwealth of Australia 2002-2005 | Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry | Other DAFF Ministers | Prime Minister

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22/08/2005 http://www.mffc.gov.au/releases/2005/05134m.html