Monday, June 30, 2003


Australia has a big illegal fishing problem to its North. The Indonesians have fished out their own waters so their fishermen are continually intruding into Australian waters to fish there. The Australian navy does catch them and tow their boats into Broome harbour at times but this email just passed on to me says that such measures are no deterrent:

We had talked to the crew of HMAS Arunta when it brought another Indonesian boat in. They said they just about knew most of the Indonesians by name because the fishermen didn't really mind being caught - they got good food and were paid $5 a day in temporary detention until the Broome magistrate found them guilty and they were flown home at our expense. $5 a day was more than they earned in a month as fishermen, and made them relatively rich when they got back to their kampongs, especially if the magistrate had lots of business on his hands and they had to stay in detention a while. And they were taught English to boot! A real ticket to a better life. The boss lost the boat, of course, unless he/she paid compensation (which was hardly ever, because they were not very sophisticated boats - most were just burnt). Some of the fishermen had been caught eight times!


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