More than 8000 illegal foreign fishing vessels were sighted in 2004-05 and only 280 were apprehended last year. An uncoordinated effort by a raft of Federal Government agencies – Customs, Australian Defence Force, Coastwatch, Fisheries, Immigration and Foreign Affairs – has failed say Customs officials.
Kon Vtaskalis, NT Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries wants the PM to personally take action and convene a summit of all relevant ministers and stakeholders to tackle the problem, as “without immediate action the situation will not only worsen – it will become a source of tension with regional neighbours”.
“The Federal Government should help fund an expansion of the Territory’s Indigenous Marine Ranger Program – the rangers are already in place and have a proven track record in responding to illegal fishing activity. They provide a platform for Federal authorities to investigate and apprehend illegal fishers”.
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