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Asia Dive News : Indonesian boat carrying shark fins seized by Australia

Illegal fishermen used burning poles and machetes to try to avoid capture by the Australian navy after their boat was intercepted in Australian waters, Justice Minister Chris Ellison said on Wednesday.

An Australian customs patrol boat and a navy patrol ship were forced to fire warning shots after the Indonesian-flagged fishing boat initially refused to stop when it was found on Tuesday. "The fishing boat crew deployed anti-boarding poles and set them on fire, brandished knives and machetes, and threw lead weights at the customs boarding party," Ellison said in a statement.

The confrontation highlights the increasing desperation of illegal fishermen off Australia's north after Australia earlier this month announced an A$88 million ($66 million) programme to crack down on poachers in Australia's territorial waters.

Ellison said customs officers found two holds full of dried shark fin and more than 50 whole sharks on the latest boat. He said nine crew had been arrested and would now face charges. The HMAS Armidale is towing the vessel to Darwin.

Source: Reuters