Indonesian foreign fishing vessels harvesting fish at Rowley Shoals in WA as Australian border forces watch

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“All they need is the fin for the Chinese market… they don’t need the rest, so they cut the fins and throw in the body,” said an experienced charter operator.

This same operator, who did not want to be identified, has been taking tourists to the trio of islands for more than a decade. They said guests paid thousands of dollars for the experience and were shocked at what they saw.

“They all know they can’t be sued, so they just do it. The boats actually pass the patrol boats now and enter. “

Local charter operator

Local operators had security and hacking issues.

“On Monday, the Indonesians came to anchor next to us overnight, we called the Border Forces who arrived but did not move them from the area,” said the charter operator.

They said Tuesday morning that other Indonesian ships had arrived after the patrol boats left overnight.

“We have to stay awake 24 hours a day to keep our boat safe and the patrols have just left. As they left, they said over the radio: “Have a good trip, be careful, we are leaving now”.

“It’s a joke. Is Australia no longer defending its sovereignty?

“They all know they can’t be sued, so they just do it. The boats actually pass the patrol boats now and enter. “

Fishing is prohibited in Rowley Shoals Marine Park, but a limited number of licensed charter boats can take tourists there to dive and snorkel.

While traditional Indonesian fishing is permitted on Scott and Ashmore Reefs further north, there are sanctuary areas at Rowley Shoals further south and closer to the mainland with an abundance of fish stocks and delicate reef systems.

A spokeswoman for the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development said it would enforce compliance activities involving local charter operators in the state’s marine park, but referred questions to ABF about the reasons why international ships in the park had not been sanctioned.

“When fishing activities are not allowed in specific areas of the Marine Park, appropriate sanctions would be applied,” she said.

An ABF spokeswoman said the agency was aware of foreign fishing vessels in the vicinity of Rowley Shoals.

“We have a range of capabilities to respond to illegal activity in the Australian maritime environment,” she said.

“The Maritime Border Command, a joint agency working group activated by ABF and the Australian Defense Force, has surveillance capabilities near Rowley Shoals.

“The MBC regularly takes action to intercept and remove foreign fishing vessels from Australian waters. “

The Border Force has been contacted for further comments.


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