Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs has jointly opened the Fisheries Monitoring Centre with the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Hon. Douglas Devananda MP in Colombo, on 21 June 2022.
Australia and Sri Lanka share a longstanding close and cooperative bilateral relationship built on common interests in regional security, a shared history of cooperation and strong people-to-people links.
Australia is committed to supporting Sri Lanka’s efforts to strengthen its border management capacity. We are firm partners in dealing with the challenges of transnational organised crime such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, piracy, terrorism, and people smuggling.
This support has seen funding provided to install Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) into over 4,000 multiday fishing vessels. The VMS will enhance maritime domain awareness, build capacity to combat people smuggling, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the region, and play a key role in counter terrorism efforts.
The Fisheries Monitoring Centre is an important component that will enable Sri Lankan authorities to monitor the location of the vessels. This will provide an important lifeline for vessels requiring assistance.
This will also assist the Fisheries Ministry to monitor and ensure fishing stocks are not exploited and overfished.
This is critical for sustainable management of the fisheries resources, and to ensure that Sri Lanka is an active participant of global efforts to protect marine ecosystems.
Importantly, the VMS will enable fisherman to meet export requirements for sustainable and ethical fishing practices.
Finally, the Fisheries Monitoring Centre will assist in early identification of illicit fisheries practices and irregular vessel movements intended for transnational crime, including people smuggling, which pose risks to economic and security interests of Sri Lanka and other countries.
Minister O’Neil noted: “Fishing vessels should only be used for fishing and not for other activity. Australia and Sri Lanka’s close working relationship means that anyone who attempts to get into a boat and try to sail to Australia, will be detected and stopped by border authorities.”
“Just in the recent weeks and months, the Australian and Sri Lankan Government has detected and stopped every boat that has tried to sail to another country, saving many lives at sea.”
“I want to reiterate my message to those people who might consider a boat voyage to Australia is simple: Don’t do it. You will not get what you paid for, and you will be worse off. You have zero chance of living and working in Australia without a valid visa.”