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Asia Dive News : Indonesian boats burnt by Australia

The Australian authorities have destroyed five Indonesian boats caught fishing illegally in national waters.

The boats were set on fire in Darwin harbour, in what the Australian government said should be seen as a message to Indonesian poachers.

Indonesian fisherman regularly enter Australian waters hoping to land valuable catches including shark and trocha shells.

Poachers face fines and jail terms in addition to the loss of their boats.

Australian Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald said he hoped that images of the burning boats would be widely seen across Indonesia.

"I think the public execution, one might almost say, of these vessels does send a very, very, strong message to Indonesian fisherman," he said.

"If you come into Australian waters not only will you be fined - perhaps jailed if you don't pay your fine - but also... your boat will be destroyed."

Major haul

Indonesian authorities are working to identify boats that venture out on illegal fishing trips before they leave local waters, the senator added.

"All of that, combined with the on the water exercises, will eventually lead us to win this battle against illegal fishing in the north of Australia."

Earlier this year about 20 boats and some 200 crew were intercepted off Australia's northern waters.

Australia hailed the nine-day operation as a breakthrough.

However they also found boats were carrying sophisticated navigation and communication equipment, sparking fears that the poaching could be "masterminded" from other Asian countries.