26 September 2023

Fish smugglers schooled at airport

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A joint operation between the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and Australian Border Force (ABF) has netted the seizure of 122 live fish in a smuggling attempt by two travellers at Melbourne Airport.

Head of Biosecurity for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Lyn O’Connell said the passengers were selected for a baggage inspection at the airport as part of an intelligence-led operation.

“The live fish were not declared by the passengers, they were discovered in a number of plastic bags that were filled with water and concealed within their checked-in baggage,” Ms O’Connell said.

“Live fish can carry and transmit parasites, bacteria and viruses that could affect our native aquatic wildlife, and our $3 billion fishing and aquaculture industries,” she said.

“They may also be considered a biosecurity pest and be damaging to our unique aquatic environments and ecosystems.”

Ms O’Connell said smuggling live animals in packages was not just illegal, it was cruel and inhumane.

She said many animals smuggled in this manner did not survive.

Regional Commander for Victoria at ABF, Craig Palmer said the seizure was a great example of how the ABF and Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment work together to combat wildlife-related crime.

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