Australian Marine Parks

Friday 27 March 2020

The Federal Court has given fines to the company and skipper found to be fishing illegally within a Marine National Park Zone. The vessel was caught within a no fishing zone of Flinders Marine Park in June 2017, fishing for Southern bluefin tuna.

Pecuniary penalties of $81,900 and $12,000 were imposed on the company and skipper (respectively) under section 354 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).

The decision was welcomed by Director of National Parks, Dr James Findlay who said today’s case has helped build awareness of marine parks and the importance of compliance with fishing regulations.

“Australia is responsible for one of the world’s largest marine jurisdictions. Our marine parks play an important role in the conservation of natural, cultural, heritage and socio-economic values,” said Dr Findlay.

“Management of Australian Marine Parks involves balancing the support for sustainable use of our marine parks for industries, such as fishing and tourism, with ensuring our unique marine habitat and species are protected.

“The vast majority of fishers do the right thing and respect that our marine parks must be managed carefully to ensure they are available to be enjoyed by future generations, and we continue to work with the commercial fishing sector to build awareness of marine parks and support understanding of compliance regulations.

“The result of today’s case shows that Parks Australia takes the responsibility for our marine environment very seriously.”

The illegal fishing vessel was detected in Flinders Marine Park by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s (AFMA) vessel monitoring system (VMS). VMS technology on board the commercial fishing vessel relayed information on its position, course and speed, enabling AFMA to detect the illegal activity within the marine park. Parks Australia works closely with AFMA to ensure commercial fishers abide by marine park rules.

Located in a remote area off the north-east tip of Tasmania, Flinders Marine Park is home to deep water ecosystems with fish and marine mammal species unique to the South-east region, such as continental slope shark species. It is a crucial aspect of the migration path for humpback whales and includes foraging areas for vulnerable and endangered seabird species.