SYDNEY, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Maritime Border Command (MBC), a joint agency taskforce, has apprehended 15 Vietnamese fisherman accused of illegal poaching this week.
Authorities say a vessel was spotted by a surveillance aircraft on April 6, operating in the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia and was tracked, finally being boarded on April 10 by an Australian Border Force marine unit.
Upon searching the vessel, authorities discovered large quantities of sea cucumbers and began the process of returning the men, vessel and cargo to the port in Gladstone.
MBC Commander Rear Admiral Peter Laver said in a statement given to Xinhua that this was another successful operation to crack down on the scourge of illegal fishing in Australian waters.
"The enormous Australian maritime domain is subject to surveillance 24 hours a day, and we remain highly responsive to any attempts to engage in theft of this nature," Laver said.
"Our resources, including personnel, water and air-based assets, as well as cutting-edge technology, allow us to monitor and promptly apprehend those in the business of illegal fishing in Australian waters."
This latest illegal fishing arrest came after a similar incident in February, which saw 29 Vietnamese fisherman being charged with illegal poaching of sea cucumbers off the Australian coast.
In that instance, the men who were spread over two vessels, were intercepted at Saumarez Reef, the same place they were captured by authorities this time.
In 2016, 121 Vietnamese fisherman were convicted of illegal poaching, with over 32,000 tons of sea cucumber seized.