Massive catch uncovered on alleged illegal boat
THE 29 fishermen on board two Vietnamese vessels believed to be involved in illegal fishing off Gladstone's coast have arrived at the Australian Border Force district command centre in Gladstone.
The 29 men were unloaded from a bus shortly after midday, with border force personnel surrounding them.
They are facing charges involving breaches of investigating for breaches of the Australian Fisheries Management Act 1991 and Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The vessels were found with 13 tonnes of sea cucumbers on board.
Australian Border Force Personnel carried filled garbage bags off the bus they were travelling in, believed to be filled with the sea cucumbers.
TWO Vietnamese fishing vessels with a crew of 29 men combined have been captured and taken to Gladstone Auckland Pt Wharf.
It will be alleged the crews were caught illegally fishing for sea cucumbers.
Maritime Border Command, a multi-agency task force within the Australian Border Force, working in cooperation with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority aided the task at about 9 am this morning.
The HMAS Bathurst intercepted and boarded the crew members of both vessels at sea.
Both vessels allegedly had about 13 tonnes of sea cucumber on board when intercepted near Saumarez reef.
Australian Border Force Cutter Storm Bay was despatched to assist HMAS Bathurst.
The crew was boarded by ABF at Gladstone, Auckland Pt wharf; spectators at East Shores watched the scene unfold.
The 29 men will be transported to AFMA at Darwin.
The vessels were originally spotted by an MBC surveillance aircraft on February 15.
AFMA and Parks Australia are investigating for breaches of the Australian Fisheries Management Act 1991 and Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Commander MBC Rear Admiral Peter Laver said this is another successful outcome following Australian Government agencies' concerted efforts to detect and stop illegal fishing in Australian waters.
"The size of Australian's maritime domain may lead these fishers to believe that our seas are unmonitored and therefore freely available to theft," he said.
"Our resources, including personnel, water and air-based assets, as well as cutting-edge technology, allow us to monitor and promptly apprehend those in the business of illegal fishing in Australian waters."
AFMA general manager operations Peter Venslovas said that the apprehensions further demonstrate Australia's strong stance against illegal fishing in Australian waters.
"Foreign fishers seeking to take advantage and target our fish resources will be caught and run the risk of being prosecuted and having their boats confiscated and destroyed," Mr Venslovas said.
More information on how Australia is working to combat illegal fishing can be found at afma.gov.au
TWO Australian Border Force vessels are in the process of bringing in two Vietnamese vessels caught illegally fishing near a Gladstone reef this morning.
The two Vietnamese vessels are still out at sea, however, it's understood the 29 combined members of both vessels are on board Australian Border Force vessels.
The ABH vessels are currently in the Gladstone harbour, awaiting to unload the crew members.
They will be processed and taken to one of Australia's detention centres while investigations continue.
TWO Vietnamese fishing vessels were caught allegedly fishing for sea cucumbers off Gladstone's shore this morning.
The two vessels, with 29 crew members in total, were caught several hundred nautical miles off Gladstone by the Australian Border Force.
The crew will be processed and taken to one of Australia's detention centres while investigations continue.
A spokesperson from the department of immigration and border protection said the two vessels were caught near Suamerez Reef.
The vessels are still offshore and have been handed over to Australian Fisheries Management Authority for further investigations.
More to come.