Media Release: Australia takes the fight to illegal fishers

Following years of multinational investigations and pursuits of illegal Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish operators, several illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing operators have been apprehended and punished thanks to Australian authorities.

The Spanish Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment, has announced sanctions of AU$13 million against three companies involved in IUU fishing undertaken by the vessels Thunder and Tchaw.

"Illegal fishing is a major threat to global fisheries," Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston said. 

"We continue to do everything we can to bring these criminals to account."

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) contributed to the effort to track Thunder, which had been reported for IUU activities in the Southern Ocean since 2005.

"While the vessels evaded capture for some time by changing their names and travelling to various fisheries across the globe, they could not escape the determined efforts of our fisheries authorities," Minister Ruston said.

AFMA also played a key role in the international investigation of the illegal fishing vessel STS-50, jointly issuing the INTERPOL notice with New Zealand in 2016 and providing vessel position information to the Indonesian authorities in April 2018.

The Indonesian Navy recently apprehended the stateless IUU toothfish fishing vessel, the STS-50, which had evaded capture over the past two years.

"Australia will not tolerate IUU fishing and we are collaboratively working to ensure that those who do the wrong thing are punished," Minister Ruston said.

IUU fishing amounts to approximately 15 per cent of the world's total annual capture fisheries output.

For more information on how Australia deters, combats and prevents illegal fishing in Australian waters, visit

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