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Australian authorities arrest 15 over alleged illegal fishing on Indonesian vessels

CANBERRA (XINHUA) – Australian authorities have arrested 15 foreign fishers and seized two Indonesian vessels over alleged illegal fishing activity off the country’s north coast.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) and Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) yesterday said it detected and apprehended the Indonesian vessels allegedly fishing illegally on Tuesday in the vicinity of Deliverance Island in the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The crews were transported to Darwin, capital of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT), and placed in detention while the matter is being investigated and prosecution considered.

The ABF and AFMA said in a joint statement that the large vessels were equipped with a substantial quantity of fishing equipment. Both vessels will be disposed of by the AFMA.

Under Australian law, anyone found guilty of illegally fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) faces a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

Commander of the ABF’s Maritime Border Command (MBC), Rear Admiral Brett Sonter said Tuesday’s intercept should serve as a warning to any crews illegally fishing in Australian waters.

“If you fish illegally, you will lose your vessel, your equipment and you will be placed in immigration detention to face potential prosecution in Australian courts,” he said.

Australian Border Force apprehends an illegal fishing vessel. PHOTO: THE STAR