Vessels seized during illegal fishing crackdown

Published: 07/09/2011

A commercial fishing vessel and three of its dories were seized in Mackay today (7 September) as part of an investigation into illegal fishing in a Marine National Park Zone of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Crew from a Border Protection Command aircraft conducting surveillance in the Marine Park detected the vessels in a Marine National Park Zone (green zone) in the Swains Reef area on 2 September 2011.

GBRMPA Chairman Russell Reichelt said most commercial operators followed the rules as they understood sustainable fishing was important to the future of their industry and the future of marine resources.

"We take seriously any illegal fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – this is a precious resource that needs to be used sustainably so future generations can use it just like we do," he said.

"The majority of commercial fishers follow the rules and illegal behaviour is frowned upon by the broader industry.

"Illegal fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park undermines the measures to protect the plants and animals and undermines the efforts of commercial fishers who do the right thing."

Dr Reichelt said this operation was a good example of a number of agencies working together to protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Personnel in the Border Protection Command aircraft passed the information on to a Queensland Police Service (QPS) vessel.

The vessel was crewed by QPS, GBRMPA and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and they responded and intercepted the vessel.

"An increase in aerial surveillance activities has resulted in detecting this and three further fishing operations reported to be conducting illegal activities in Marine National Park Zones," Dr Reichelt said.

"All matters are being fully investigated and will be referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions."

Penalties range from a fine to, in certain circumstances, a custodial penalty of up to three years. Vessels involved in committing offences can also be forfeited to the Crown.

Illegal fishing can be reported to GBRMPA on (07) 4726 0510 (business hours) and (07) 3830 8246 (after hours).

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846