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Australia sends Vietnamese Nationals, illegally fishing in Australian waters, to jail

One foreign fisher has gone to jail and a further 29 illegal foreign fishers from two separate apprehensions have been convicted for breaches of the Fisheries Management Act 1991 (FMA Act) and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Appearing before the Darwin Magistrates Court on 22 December 2016, Quy Van Nguyen, a Vietnamese national, was charged with fisheries and environmental offences as a result of fishing illegally inside Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone on 30 November 2016. He was also found to be in breach of a good behaviour bond from a similar offence committed in September 2016. As a result, Nguyen is now serving a two-month term in prison.

The following day in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, 13 Vietnamese fishers apprehended on 19 November 2016, and 16 Vietnamese fishers apprehended on 30 November 2016, were charged with environmental and fisheries offences and received suspended sentences ranging from two to six months’ imprisonment for each offence. Good behaviour bonds of two to three years were also issued. The two vessels apprehended have been destroyed.

The outcomes come after a successful investigation by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) together with Parks Australia. The vessels were initially detected by Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency taskforce within the Australian Border Force (ABF), through surveillance aircraft near Saumarez Reefs in the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve, approximately 175 nautical miles northeast of Gladstone, Queensland.

AFMA’s acting General Manager Fisheries Operations, Kerry Smith said AFMA, MBC and Parks Australia will continue to work together to ensure that those found doing the wrong thing are caught.

“The convictions and jail time send a strong message to those thinking about plundering Australia’s fisheries,” Ms Smith said.

“If you do the wrong thing, you will be caught and will face penalties.”

Parks Australia’s Marine Compliance Manager Andrew Read said protecting Australia’s marine parks was a priority.

“All Australians love our oceans,” Mr Read said.

“Illegal fishing like this is just bad for everyone – for the environment, for the people who make their living from our oceans, for those wanting to explore these waters.

“That’s why we’re working closely with AFMA and MBC to stamp out illegal fishers in Australian waters.”

Commander MBC, Rear Admiral Peter Laver praised the work of the organisations involved and reaffirmed MBC’s ongoing dedication to combatting illegal fishing.

”Every day our people are doing fantastic work protecting Australia’s coastline,” Rear Admiral Laver said.

“MBC is fully committed to supporting whole-of-government efforts defending Australia’s natural resources, including its fisheries.

”These outcomes are welcomed and should serve as warning to other potential illegal fishing ventures, you will be caught and prosecuted.”

[Source: Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection-Media Relations]

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