Government To Crack Down On Foreign Fishing

Govt to crack down on foreign fishing

May 25, 2006 – 11:24AM

The federal government plans to crack down on foreigners found illegally fishing in Australian waters by introducing tougher penalties.

Fisheries Minister Peter McGauran has introduced the Fisheries Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fishing Offences) Bill 2006 to parliament.

He said the bill would allow jail sentences for people convicted of illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters.

Under the current legislation custodial sentences are only available for secondary offences such as failure to comply with court orders, providing false information or obstructing a fisheries officer.

“However, the legislation does not currently provide for custodial penalties for the primary foreign fishing offences of fishing illegally from a foreign fishing boat, or being in control of a foreign fishing boat without legal excuse, in our waters,” he said.

The legislation would help protect Australia fish stocks and prevent illegal immigration and importation of prohibited goods.

“This measure should be welcomed by all who are affected adversely by illegal foreign fishing – governments, industry, no-governmental groups and individual people – who wish to preserve and protect Australia's ecologically unique and economically important fish stocks and other living marine resources,” he said.

The bill provides for jail terms of two to three years depending on the offence, as well as substantial fines.

Debate on the bill was adjourned.