Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Partners unite to deter illegal foreign fishing in Torres Strait

The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments are working together to tackle illegal foreign fishing in the Torres Strait, with a successful 8-day joint operation completed recently.

Operation V was conducted in April with the aim of deterring illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone off the tip of Cape York.

The operation was the first international, multi-agency patrol of the Torres Strait led by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), alongside the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP), Queensland Police Service (QPS), Maritime Border Command, Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority (PNG NFA).

QBFP flagship vessel the KI Ross, ABF’s fast response vessel, Maritime Border Command’s aerial surveillance capability, and a PNG NFA patrol vessel were all involved in Operation V.

The KI Ross is a 24-metre vessel powered by twin V12, 1100-horsepower engines, that underwent a major refit last year.

The operation provided an increased enforcement presence and strong deterrent to illegal fishers operating in the region.

The patrol engaged with a range of fishers, including PNG Treaty villagers undertaking traditional fishing in line with the Torres Strait Treaty, and inspections of local fishers.

“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a major contributor to global overfishing, which threatens marine ecosystems and puts food security and regional stability at risk. It is also linked to human rights violations and organised crime,” said Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt.

“The Albanese Government is committed to combating IUU fishing in the Torres Strait through a comprehensive, multifaceted approach that includes direct domestic and international action, and bilateral, regional, and global cooperation.

“All PNG and Australian vessels boarded during the operation were found to be fishing legally.  The fact that illegal vessels avoided the area highlights the strength of this high visibility operation in deterring illegal inclusions, particularly through the presence of both Australian and PNG authorities.”

Australia has a long history of working with the PNG NFA to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in Australian waters, ensuring fish stocks throughout the Torres Strait are managed sustainably and maritime security is maintained.

“Queensland fisheries belong to Queenslanders, and Queenslanders expect them to be protected from illegal poachers and black marketers,” said Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Furner.

“We are well advanced in implementing our Sustainable Fisheries Strategy, which means sustainable fish stocks into the future and protecting good jobs for people who rely on commercial, recreational and charter fishing.”

Torres Strait Regional Authority Chairperson, Napau Pedro Stephen AM said the Authority welcomed the international, multi-agency patrol in deterring illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the region.

“Our communities have been raising illegal fishing concerns and the need to address these matters quickly.”

“Fishing is a critical source of income, food on the table and part of our traditional way of life across the Torres Strait,” he said.

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