Joint media release - The Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Vessel (ACV) Ocean Shield will return to Australia tomorrow after a 42-day patrol in the Southern Ocean.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture Senator Richard Colbeck said the voyage had covered more than 6385 nautical miles of the vast Southern Ocean.
The patrol included Australia’s sub-Antarctic territories, Macquarie Island, Heard Island and McDonald Islands to the French waters in the Southern Indian Ocean surrounding the Kerguelen Islands.
Mr Dutton said that the Coalition Government was committed to patrolling the Southern Ocean.
At the weekend two more suspected Southern Ocean illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels had been detained by authorities in Cabo Verde, off the west coast of Africa.
This follows the detention of the IUUs Kunlun and Perlon in Asian ports in recent months.
Mr Dutton said the decision to undertake the patrol at this time had been informed by a number of maritime risk factors, one of which was the success of the Government’s enduring Operation Sovereign Borders policy.
“With Border Protection Command personnel no longer having to intercept vast numbers of suspected illegal entry vessels to the north of Australia, Australian officers and vessels are able to protect our maritime border in areas that haven’t seen a patrol for many years,” Mr Dutton said.
“This patrol complements enforcement action against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessels earlier this year, and sends a clear message to those who engage in illegal fishing, people smuggling, marine pollution, and similar activities: the Australian government is committed to combatting organised transnational crime in even the most remote locations.”
Senator Colbeck said the patrol reinforced Australia’s commitment to protecting its sovereignty in the Southern Ocean, and the latest vessel detentions are a testament to the high levels of international cooperation which exist to combat illegal fishing.
“Australia works closely with our international partners to close the net on illegal fishers,” Senator Colbeck said.
“Australia’s patrols are part of a wider effort, involving international cooperation and diplomatic initiatives, to combat illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean.
“As witnessed with the detaining of the IUU vessels Songhua and Yongding over the weekend, action taken by Australia with international cooperation is leading to a significant reduction in IUU fishing in the Southern Ocean.
“I congratulate all countries involved with this international effort, and reinforce this government’s commitment to stamping out this global problem.”
*** Photos of the vessel and its patrol are on the ACBPS Newsroom for download. ***