Two Vietnamese so-called "blue boats" are now reported to be about 400 kilometers west of New Caledonia after escaping from custody in Noumea yesterday morning.
Media reports say Australian authorities have been notified of the two vessels which have 40 crew onboard after the available French naval ship suffered technical problems and could not be used for a pursuit.
The two blue boats were among three which had been escorted by the French navy to Noumea on Wednesday after being caught fishing illegally off the northern island of Belep.
Two of the three captains were detained for the second time and are due in court today.
The vessels escaped despite the French authorities disabling their communications equipment.
Authorities are yet to determine where, and how, these boats are being refuelled.
Reports say beche de mer can fetch about $US300 per kilogramme on the Chinese market.