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Harsher penalties needed for illegal Indonesian fishermen

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Senator Grant Tambfing Shadow Minister for Regional Development, External Territories and Northern Australia


Indonesians caught fishing illegally in Australian waters should be forced to serve time in their own jails as part of stiffer penalties proposed by the Shadow Minister for Regional Development, External Territories and Northern Australia.

Speaking in Darwin today, Senator Grant Tambling said new penalties needed to take into account the enormous cost of apprehending the boats, security and rationing arrangements for

crew members in Australia and repatriation to Indonesia.

"The seizure of a fishing vessel and its catch, as well as the prospect of facing court, is no deterrent for these fishermen, many of whom are repeat offenders. The problem is compounded by the fact that trochus shell fishermen and shark fin fishermen

have different economic motives.

"Until all these fishermen face penalties at home and are forced to shoulder some of the costs now borne by the Australian taxpayer, we will not see an improvement.

"I am also calling on the Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Gareth Evans, to provide me with details of any government-to- government initiatives aimed at addressing this problem, in particular jail/repatriation arrangements and plans to tax or

license shark fishermen."

Senator Tambling made the comments today following a

comprehensive briefing with officers of the Australian Customs Service in Darwin. The briefing concentrated on the record 13 Indonesian fishing boats and 232 crew members caught in Australian waters, off Western Australia, since Christmas Day.

"I am impresed with the commitment and professionalism of the Australian Customs Service and the co-ordination between defence, fisheries and other organisations. The fact that the Coastwatch network has been developed to such a sophisticated standard is

also a credit to them.

"Unfortunately the message only will get through to regional communities and business interests In Indonesia when the penalties and costs outweigh the economic advantage of poaching."

ENDS Contact; Senator Tambling (089) 81 3567 wk / (089) 819282 hm Tiz Zeroni (089) 81 3567 wk