Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Launceston has apprehended a foreign fishing vessel suspected of illegally fishing in Australian waters, about 180 nautical miles north-west of Darwin.
Under the coordination of Border Protection Command (BPC), and working closely with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), HMAS Launceston detected and intercepted the foreign fishing vessel on Sunday, 27 April.
About 20 kilograms of salted trepang, five reef fish and five kilograms of dried fish, along with hookah and dive gear, were discovered by Launceston’s boarding party. Trepang, also known as sea cucumber, is considered a delicacy in most cultures in East and South-East Asia and is highly regarded for its perceived health benefits.
The Deputy Commander of Joint Task Force 639, Commodore Brenton Smyth, said the interception highlighted efforts to safeguard Australia’s sovereignty and protect the marine environment and our natural resources for future generations.
The task force’s members operate in Australia’s remote northern waters, around the clock, 365 days a year.
“Any threat to the marine environment and the sustainability of our natural fish stocks is something we take seriously, and we are poised as part of BPC to respond quickly and efficiently,” Commodore Smyth said.
The vessel was towed to Darwin by HMAS Launceston where it will be inspected by AFMA and Biosecurity officials.
About 800 ADF personnel form JTF 639 including Armidale-class patrol boat crews, RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, Army land-based patrols and staff at Headquarters Northern Command in Darwin. Together with their Customs and Border Protection counterparts, they provide surveillance and response in Australia’s exclusive economic zone – an extensive area covering more than 11 per cent of the world’s surface.
Press Release, April 30, 2014; Image: Wikimedia