Customs and TradeNews

Australian Border Force targeting illegal foreign fishing in Australia’s Northern waters

The Australian Border Force (ABF), along with our partner agencies, is committed to protecting Australia’s maritime regions from illegal fishing by foreign fishing vessels.

The ABF’s effort to combat illegal fishing activities is spear-headed by Maritime Border Command (MBC) – a joint-agency taskforce comprising officers from the ABF and the Australian Defence Force (ADF), drawing on all capabilities available to both organisations.

“Globally, Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a significant environmental issue and threat to sustainable fisheries. Our message to illegal foreign fishers in Australian waters is simple: we will target you and intercept you. You will lose your catch, your equipment, and possibly even your vessel,” MBC Commander Rear Admiral Mark Hill  said.

Australia has 37,000 kilometres of coastline and an offshore maritime area of almost 45 million square kilometres. The combined ABF and ADF air and sea assets, with their state-of-the-art surveillance, intelligence, and detection technologies, enable us to respond to a wide range of maritime security threats across this vast domain.

In the 2020-2021 financial year, MBC apprehended 85 illegal fishing vessels in Australian waters – seizing equipment and contraband such as nets and fishing gear, as well as catch including trepang (sea cucumber), shark fin, and finfish. These actions also resulted in the destruction of 12 illegal fishing vessels.