Illegal haul seized
VIETNAMESE fishermen have been apprehended off Cairns’ coastline with haul of nearly 2.5 tonnes of poached sea cucumbers.
Fifteen crew members were on-board the vessel that was caught near Lihou Reef in the Coral Sea, about 630km southeast of Cairns, by Maritime Border Command (MBC) on February 3.
The boat was spotted by an MBC surveillance aircraft, and later pursued by Australian Border Force cutter Storm Bay.
The crew and their vessel were apprehended and taken to Cairns yesterday for further investigation by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and Parks Australia for breaking environmental and fisheries laws.
The 2.4 tonnes of sea cucumbers, and 10 large dried fish that was also seized, were disposed of at sea.
It is the 10th foreign boat caught since July last year, with a majority snared in northern Australian waters.
In recent months, there has been a spike in the number of Vietnamese fishing vessels sighted and apprehended in Australia’s northeastern waters, and the waters of Papua New Guinea, Palau and New Caledonia.
The activity is being driven by increased prices for sea cucumbers on the world market.