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Australian border protection officers board illegal fishing vessel
Thursday, 05 March 2015 14:04

Australian border protection personnel have intercepted and boarded a fishing vessel in the Southern Ocean believed to have been operating under a false flag and in defiance of international conventions.

Officers from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) boarded and searched the internationally listed fishing vessel ‘Kunlun’, after interdicting the vessel to the west of the Cocos Keeling Islands.

The vessel was first detected near the islands by a maritime patrol aircraft, operating under the control of Border Protection Command (BPC). Once its location was confirmed, an ACBPS vessel, also operating under the control of BPC, intercepted and boarded the ‘Kunlun’.

In January, ‘Kunlun’ was identified operating within Commonwealth Bay off the Antarctic coast. The purpose of the boarding was to investigate claims that the vessel was authorised by Equatorial Guinea to fish in the Southern Ocean. This area of waters is managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

In the course of the inspection of the vessel, ACBPS officers observed a significant quantity of frozen fish in storage.

Information gathered in the course of the inspection will be used to conduct further inquiries in relation to the vessel's nationality, ownership and authority to fish in the region.

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, said the government would ensure vessels operating in the Southern Ocean do so legally and are registered appropriately.

"Our message to those who may seek to fish under false flags, or flags of convenience, is simple; we operate a range of assets in a range of locations, and we will continue to use these and the full extent of our powers to target you,” he said.

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