Australian Fisheries Management Authority -Media Release (2003)

AFMA 10 October 2003


The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has charged five foreign nationals with illegal fishing following the seizure of the Uruguayan-flagged vessel Viarsa 1.

Four are senior crew members of the Viarsa 1. They are the 58-year-old Uruguayan skipper, three Spanish nationals aged 43, 40 and 38, and a 44-year-old man from Chile. The fifth person has been identified as a crewmember from a vessel previously apprehended in the Australian Fishing Zone.
All have been charged with offences under Sections 100 and 101of Australia’s Fisheries Management Act 1991.

They are due to face Perth Court of Petty Sessions today.

An AFMA spokesperson said the Authority would allege that the Viarsa 1 had illegally fished for Patagonian toothfish within Australia’s exclusive economic zone surrounding the Heard Island and McDonald Islands territories.

He said the charges followed an investigation by Fisheries officers which commenced when the Viarsa 1 arrived in Fremantle on 3 October following a marathon sea chase by the Australian Customs and Fisheries patrol vessel Southern Supporter.

The chase began inside the Australian Fishing Zone on 7 August and ended 3,900 nautical miles later when Australian Fisheries officers, assisted by South African and UK authorities, boarded the Viarsa 1 in the South Atlantic Ocean on 28 August.

The AFMA spokesperson said the Viarsa 1’s catch of Patagonian toothfish had been offloaded earlier this week and would now be sold by tender with the monies held in trust until the conclusion of any legal proceedings.

“The vessel, its catch and equipment were formally seized by AFMA last week under the provisions of the Fisheries Management Act.”

ENDS/10 October 2003

For interviews, please contact:
Contact: Simon Latimer/Tamsin Allen
AFMA Communications
(02) 6272 4844 (office)
0409 567 424 (mobile)

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is the agency responsible for ensuring the sustainable use and efficient management of Commonwealth fisheries resources on behalf of the Australian community. AFMA manages fisheries within the 200 nautical mile Australian Fishing Zone.

10 October 2003