It is suspected at least one other foreign fishing vessel may be hiding near the Kimberley coast, just two days after an Indonesian boat was found loaded with trochus in the area.
Fisheries Minister Jon Ford said the second vessel was suspected to be somewhere near Caffarelli Island, in King Sound, where a boat with 19 people on board, including two 16-year-olds, was apprehended on Wednesday.
“This is another example of the continuing flood of foreign boats fishing illegally in Western Australian waters and the Federal Government’s failure to stem the flow,” Mr Ford said.
“Australian fishermen and traditional communities in the Kimberley, who depend on the sustainability of our fisheries, are sick of Senator MacDonald’s arrogance and rhetoric.
“Western Australians want to see more patrols and more foreign boats being caught to deter the illegal activities.”
Mr Ford said intelligence from Indonesian fishermen, detained over the past few months, indicated that at least three successful raids into WA waters resulted in about 8,000 kilograms of trochus being taken back to Indonesia.
“This is more than half the legal take allowed to the Bardi Aboriginal community, so poaching is a major threat to the sustainability of the trochus fishery,” he said.
“The Navy officers, who apprehended the foreign fishing boat in King Sound on Wednesday, allege there were 2,500kg of trochus on board.
“It will also be alleged the trochus was collected over a two-day period on reefs east/south-east of Caffarelli Island.”
The Minister said 16 Indonesian fishermen were expected to appear in Broome court next Tuesday, charged with breaches of the State’s Fish Resources Management Act.
Of these men, 15 were to be charged under Section 174 of the Act for using a foreign boat for fishing in WA waters and the skipper could also be charged, under Section 175, for being in control of a foreign boat equipped with fishing gear. The maximum penalty for both offences was $50,000 and two years' jail.
Minister's Office - 9213 7200