Posted by: The ocean update | March 29, 2016

Illegal fishing vessels intercepted in Queensland (Australia)

File image of the Great Barrier Reef. (AAP)

File image of the Great Barrier Reef. (AAP)

March 29th, 2016. Two illegal fishing vessels carrying 28 people have been intercepted off the far north Queensland coast.

Two Vietnamese fishing boats have been towed to Cairns after they were caught with sea cucumbers in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The boats, containing 28 crew members, were intercepted with a large amount of diving gear and what’s thought to be illegally caught beche-de-mer, or sea cucumbers, near Lockhart River in Cape York at the weekend.

The people found on board were taken to Cairns on Tuesday morning and will be investigated by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).

They will be placed in immigration detention during the prosecution process, a Border Protection spokesman said.

Lockhart River mayor Wayne Butcher says the interception is concerning for the remote Aboriginal community, which depends on local fisheries for food.

“Seafood is the main diet, they fully depend on the sea,” he told AAP on Tuesday.

“It’s a question that needs to be asked, how they (illegal fisherman) got through the Torres Strait? And how they got this far?”

An aircraft was used to identify the vessels before they were boarded and the crew members detained.

Rear Admiral Peter Laver from Maritime Border Command said officers had worked tirelessly to protect Australian waters from illegal fishing.

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