Australia intercepts 3rd illegal fishing boat in week

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An illegal fishing vessel targeting sharks and sea cucumber has been apprehended by the Australian authorities as coastal surveillance has been stepped up.

A joint operation with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and the Australian Border Force apprehended an illegal fishing vessel in waters off north-western Australia, allegedly containing long lines, 200 steel traced with hooks for poaching sharks, a 50-meter gill net and reef shoes for collecting sea cucumbers at low-tide.

It's the third illegal fishing vessel apprehension in a week following the detection of two Vietnamese boats caught fishing sea cucumber in the great barrier reef off Australia's mainland, which raised concerns of the nation's coastal surveillance.

"AFMA will continue to work with the Australian Border Force to patrol our waters and those found doing the wrong thing will be caught," AFMA general manager of operations Peter Venslovas said in a statement on Monday.

"In addition to monitoring and surveillance, we also work in-country with our regional partners to stop illegal fishing before it reaches Australian waters."

Australian and South Pacific waters are important economic drivers for regional communities which rely on fisheries resources to contribute to growth, employment and investment. The offshore tuna industry provides 350 million U.S. dollars in direct revenue alone.

As such regional cooperation has seen the numbers of illegal fishing vessels operating in the area significantly decrease over the past decade. Since July 2015, local authorities have apprehended 13 illegal fishing vessels, down from 367 in the 2005-06 Australian financial year.

"This is a testament not only to our strong on-water and in-the-air presence but also the capacity-building and information-sharing between international and Australian agencies," ABF commander of the maritime border command Rear Admiral Peter Laver said.

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