Australian Border Force burn boats, seize seafood in crackdown against Indonesian vessels

Australian officials swung into action in northern waters, destroying illegal Indonesian boats and seizing hundreds of kilograms of fishing gear and seafood.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has released photographs showing the small colourful boats burning at sea in the wake of the three-day operation near the Rowley Shoals Marine Park off the northern Western Australian coast.

The actions come after local tour operators raised the alarm about dozens of foreign boats in the area, saying they feared piracy during recent trips.

Rear Admiral Mark Hill, who heads the Maritime Border Command, said three boats were destroyed and 13 others escorted out of Australian waters.

“We have had a busy weekend where we have encountered 16 vessels fishing illegally, and responded in conjunction with WA Fisheries,” he said.

“It demonstrates the resolve that we have to counter illegal fishing, not only in the Rowley Shoals area, but throughout the north of the country.”

Fishing equipment was seized from the 13 boats before they were led out of Australian waters, and a total of 630 kilograms of trepang was confiscated.

None of the fishermen were detained or prosecuted, despite that being an option.

The operation has been welcomed by Australian fishermen, although some say authorities were slow to act and only did so following media publicity.