Saturday October 1, 09:57 AM
Indonesian fishermen 'board' Aust fishing boat
A Western Australian fisheries patrol boat is heading to a remote part of the state's northern coast to investigate reports an Australian fishing vessel was boarded by Indonesian fishermen.
A Customs spokesman says HMAS Geraldton is also heading towards the area to investigate.
The fishing boat Southern Venture II was anchored 750 metres off the coast near Hat Point, close to the top end of Western Australia when the incident is said to have occurred.
The captain of the fishing vessel Southern Venture II raised the alarm yesterday afternoon with a message to his company.
The captain told of how two Indonesian men sailed up to his vessel in a 10-metre long fishing boat and climbed aboard.
The men were tying their boat to the Australian vessel when the crew confronted them.
Western Australian Fisheries minister John Ford says he is concerned by the llegations.
"My understanding is this is the first time that local fishermen and Indonesian fishermen have actually has a physical altercation in Australian fishermen removing the people," he said.
"This is the incident that we have warned the Commonwealth about."
The company Albany Tuna owns the boat and director Doug Rogers says the men were surprised when the crew confronted them.
"The skipper tried to communicate with them but found that they were quite belligerent and not really prepared to do anything whatsoever so he assisted them back over the side of the vessel," he said.
"He had to force them off the boat because the situation really became, I guess, not dangerous, but it's not the sort of situation where people just don't go aboard other people's vessels at sea."
Mr Rogers believes the men may have mistaken the Australian vessel for a "mothership" operating in the area.
Western Australian fisheries spokesman told the ABC the fisheries patrol vessel PV Walcott has been sent to search the area.
Patrol planes are also being sent to the area.