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Hi tech vessel caught by authorities.

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Hi tech vessel caught by authorities

DAFF04/014M 26 January 2004

Australian Fisheries Authorities will continue their heavy presence in the Northern Waters after the seizure of an illegal fishing vessel equipped with a GPS.

Australian Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald said the apprehension of the Indonesian boat and its 22 crew from Thailand, showed how sophisticated and commercialised illegal fishing had become.

"This just illustrates the nature of what we are increasingly coming up against in our fight against illegal fishing through advancing technology," Senator Macdonald said.

"This boat was equipped with a GPS colour plotter and a large freezer capacity for storing their catch.

"The Australian Government makes no excuses for increasing our presence in our Northern Waters, as we are determined to ensure our fisheries remain sustainable.

"The presence of 14 dogs on board also highlights the quarantine aspect of Australia's top end protection of our borders."

Coastwatch aircraft surveillance spotted the vessel inside the Australian Fishing Zone, north of Gove last week.

It was apprehended by the Navy patrol vessel HMAS Gladstone, and arrived back at Darwin over the weekend.

Australian Fisheries Management Authorities will interview the 22 adult crew on board, amid allegations a considerable quantity of freshly caught fish was found on deck.

"While the majority of illegal fishers in our Northern Waters target shark fin, this vessel was found with a large amount of reef fish," Senator Macdonald said.

"It reinforces the point that authorities can never be too vigilant in our battle against illegal fishers."

This is the seventh apprehension in Australia's northern waters for 2004, and comes hot on the heels of the arrest by Australian authorities in the opposite end of Australia's territorial waters with the apprehension of the Maya V near Heard Island last Friday.

Further inquiries:

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