The Australian Government has welcomed news that the last active Southern Ocean illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessel, the Viking, has been detained by the Indonesian Navy last week.
The vessel was boarded last week and then escorted to an Indonesian port where the crew are currently under investigation by Indonesian authorities.
Australia works closely with its international counterparts including Indonesia, as part of the Regional Plan of Action (RPOA), a multinational plan that encourages collaboration to detect and deter IUU fishing.
The detention of the Viking is testimony to the commitment and cooperation of multinational efforts to address the illegal exploitation of natural resources and target international organised crime operating these vessels.
In September last year, the Viking was boarded and searched by the Australian Border Force (ABF) on the high seas north-west of Christmas Island. Information sharing by Australian Government agencies, including the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), together with other RPOA nations, have all contributed to this outcome.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said this result demonstrated the importance and value of international cooperation in targeting IUU fishing and protecting natural resources.
“Working closely with our international partners, multiple IUU vessels have been put out of business in the last 12 months,” Mr Dutton said.
“This includes the two IUU vessels Kunlun and Perlon which were also boarded and searched by officers from the then Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in early 2015.
“Through our international collaborative approach, the message to IUU operators is clear, we are targeting you and there is nowhere to hide.”
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston agreed. She said high levels of international collaboration and information sharing through Australian Government agencies was again leading to results.
“Australia is committed to working with our international partners to disrupt and dismantle the business model being used by transnational IUU operators by cutting off the ability for vessels to unload catch or access port facilities,” Minister Ruston said.
“IUU fishing undermines the sustainability of marine resources and threatens food security. The RPOA builds on the strong relationships we have with our near neighbours and our officers continue to work alongside our regional partners to eliminate IUU fishing in our region.”
The Viking has a history of engaging in IUU fishing in the Southern Ocean. The vessel has been on the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) Non-Contracting Party list of IUU vessels since 2004. The vessel has been sighted on several occasions by ABF marine assets in the Indian Ocean as well as by regional partners in Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
More information on how the Australian Government is combatting IUU fishing can be found at afma.gov.au