The Navy joined the effort to stop illegal fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park recently.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) officer Dwaine Butcher sailed in Cairns-based Australian Defence Vessel Cape Inscription on an eight-day search for illegal fishers.

The search areas included waters around Cape Bowling Green and the Queensland islands Whitsunday, Tern, Capricorn and Bunker, as well as the northern point of Fraser Island.

The majority of the illegal fishers were found in the Capricorn and Bunker islands off the coast of Gladstone.

This was the first time a GBRMPA officer had embarked on a Navy vessel assigned to Maritime Border Command – a joint agency task force comprising members of the ADF and Australian Border Force – to enforce the rules within marine national parks.

Commanding Officer Cape Inscription Lieutenant Commander Richard Currie said the task ensured continued protection of the reef.
 
“The tasking was a great opportunity to strengthen our ties with the GBRMPA,” Lieutenant Commander Currie said.

“Providing their officers with a platform such as Cape Inscription allowed the GBRMPA to enforce the marine park rules at night and in areas that cannot normally be achieved.”

The task ensures continued protection of the reef.

The surveillance included helicopter flyovers of boat ramps and reefs and use of an MX-10 telescopic camera on Cape Inscription's bridge to spot fishers at night.

Mr Butcher said the experience was unforgettable and would pave the way for future collaborations.

“I really enjoyed my time with the crew as well as seeing the capability of Maritime Border Command assets,” Mr Butcher said.

“I am looking forward to enhancing the bond between our two agencies.” 

Mr Butcher previously served in the Army, including in a transit security element rotation and more recently was a boarding officer in the Australian Border Force, so he is familiar with Cape-class vessels such as Cape Inscription.