24 Jan 2010

Illegal fishing boats well down in number

12:07 pm on 24 January 2010

The number of illegal fishing boats being caught in Australian waters has plummeted.

The ABC reports increased border patrols now make illegal fishing too risky.

The Defence Department and the Fisheries Management Authority say they have apprehended only about 30 boats since June. Previously, hundreds of foreign boats per year were caught.

Instead of making big trips into Australian waters, the Defence says boats are clustering along Australia's boundary and making shallow incursions.

Fishermen who trawl Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone say fish stocks are improving as a result.

However, Australian National University Professor Jim Fox says increased border patrols have made it too risky for the businessmen bankrolling the illegal fishing.

But he says, some fishermen may turn to people smuggling to survive.