2 November 2007
Groundbreaking Australia – RI Joint Fisheries Patrol
Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Bill Farmer, said Australia and Indonesia had taken a “great leap forward” in efforts to prevent illegal fishing in the region following a groundbreaking coordinated fisheries patrol in the Arafura Sea this week.
Australian Customs Vessel (ACV) Arnhem Bay and Indonesian Fisheries Department vessels Hiu Macan 003 and Hiu Macan 004 patrolled their respective side of the Australia-Indonesia maritime border over four days from 29 October to 1 November. A Customs Coastwatch aircraft supported the patrols with daily aerial surveillance.
Ambassador Farmer said these coordinated patrols, a result of ongoing Australia-RI maritime cooperation over recent months, would raise the capacity of both countries to combat illegal fishing and other transnational crimes.
“Illegal fishing costs the Australian and Indonesian economies millions of dollars each year and serves to deplete substantially our fish stocks, which are an important source of food and a key trade commodity,” Farmer said.
The operational patrol follows an exercise in June to fine tune communication arrangements. This is the first time, however, that the two nations have rendezvoused at sea to undertake civil cooperative patrolling.
The Commander of Australia’s Border Protection Command, Rear Admiral James Goldrick, welcomed the patrol as a “concrete sign of greater cooperation between Australia and Indonesia and a more coordinated approach to reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the region”.
Admiral Goldrick said the Australian Customs and Indonesian Fisheries vessels and surveillance aircraft had, in this patrol, exercised communication procedures and protocols in response to illegal fishing activities within our exclusive economic zones.
He said the patrol was part of a range of measures to enable Australian Customs vessels to work more closely with Indonesian fisheries patrol vessels and increase our overall capacity to apprehend illegal foreign fishing vessels in our respective waters.
Australia and Indonesia agreed to conduct coordinated patrols at the Australia-Indonesia Fisheries Surveillance Forum in Darwin in March. The Forum established measures for cooperation on fisheries surveillance and response activities, information sharing, coordinated activity, information networks, technical assistance, as well as options for funding of these activities.
Admiral Goldrick said ongoing border protection operations remained an important deterrent to illegal foreign fishing.
“Foreign fishing vessels continue to operate just beyond the boundaries of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (AEEZ). A reduction in our border protection efforts could result in a resurgence of foreign fishing activity in our waters,” he said.
In the 12 months to June 2007, there was a 58 percent reduction in sightings of illegal foreign fishing vessels in Australia’s northern waters, compared with the previous year. At the same time, Australian surveillance coverage in the area increased by around eight per cent, and the rate of apprehension of foreign fishing vessels to those sighted increased by more than 40 per cent.
Indonesian Media Inquiries:
John Williams (Counsellor Public Affairs) tel. 021 2550 5290, hp. 0812 1053 989
Australian & International Media Inquiries:
Border Protection Command Media (61-2) 6275 6793
Images of the patrol are available in the Media Room at www.customs.gov.au