Jon Ford

Jon Ford

Minister for Employment Protection; Regional Development; Fisheries; the Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne

    Illegal fishing invasion threatens Australia's shark stocks

    14/09/2005 12:00 AM

    The Commonwealth will be told it must boost dedicated fishing patrols to fight the new wave of motorised Indonesian boats targeting shark stocks off northern Australia.

    The Western Australian and Northern Territory governments will raise their concerns at a meeting in Canberra tomorrow with Australian Fisheries Minister Ian MacDonald.

    WA Fisheries Minister Jon Ford and NT Fisheries Minister Kon Vatskalis have accused the Commonwealth of largely ignoring the threat.

    Mr Ford said he had been advised that Indonesian fishermen could be taking more than 5,000 tonnes of shark a year in Australian waters; throwing most of it overboard and keeping just the fins, which were highly sought after in China.

    “I am told that is as many as 250,000 sharks are being slaughtered for their fins, and this estimate may be conservative,” the Minister said.

    Mr Vatskalis said he was surprised and alarmed to read a recent press report that 22 illegal fishing boats were being sighted every day in northern waters.

    “Senator Macdonald has claimed in the media that organised crime syndicates may be involved in these illegal fishing operations and we need answers,” he said.

    “One of my biggest fears is the bio-security risk; some of these fishermen are reportedly landing on the mainland and bringing hens, dogs and monkeys with them.

    “In the Northern Territory we want additional resources to combat this wave of illegal fishermen.”

    Mr Ford said WA would push the Commonwealth to reconsider its plan to cut funding to an international operations unit, which was set up 25 years ago in Broome and Perth to combat illegal fishing.

    “Moving this unit to Darwin would be a disaster for WA,” he said.

    “Canberra should be increasing dedicated fishing patrols instead of cutting back when so much is at stake.”

    Mr Ford said the Premier’s parliamentary secretary, Margaret Quirk, would represent the State in Canberra.

    Minister's office 9425 4200