Indonesian fishermen jailed for fishing offences in Australian waters
Saturday, January 7, 2006
Thirty-four Indonesian fisherman have been jailed in Broome in northern Western Australia (WA) for illegal fishing offences. Seven of the 34 have been jailed in Australia before for previous fishing offences.
Their vessels were found hiding in mangroves off the Kimberley coast. The fisherman were found in possession of nearly two tonnes of trochus shell, a shell valued for fashioning into high quality buttons, beads and trinkets. They face jail terms up to a year.
The WA Fisheries Department says the jail terms reflect the seriousness with which the offence is being viewed. Department officer Chris Mitchell says the fishermen had traversed 200 miles of Commonwealth waters and were inside the three nautical mile state limit when they were caught.
He says their actions are a serious breach of fisheries laws. "In the early days, the courts would have given a good behaviour bond for a first offender," he said. "That was more specifically for the traditional sail-powered vessels, not these motorised vessels that are coming down and because these are in state waters it is far more serious."
On Thursday, skippers of 11 Indonesian fishing boats were fined by a Perth court. Three of the men, who had previous convictions, were fined $15,000 each, with 100 days to pay. The remaining eight were fined $9000 each and given 60 days to pay.
The captains were fined between $9,000 and $15,000 for fishing and taking trochus shell from Australian waters off the north-west coast last month. Three of the captains have been caught fishing in Australian waters before between 1997 and 2004.
Legal Aid lawyer David McKenzie, says the fishermen were very poor and it was highly unlikely they would be able to pay the fines.
The magistrate ordered that they spend between 60 and 100 days in jail in Western Australia if the fines were not paid.
- "Illegal fishing captains fined" — , January 5, 2005
- "11 Indonesian captains face jail over illegal fishing" — , January 5, 2006