31st December 1937
Fisheries Patrol Vessel Larrakia today warned off Japanese fishing vessels in our northern waters, firing off more than 1000 rounds of ammunition. Poachers are having a serious effect on shellfish stocks in particular.
This isn’t the first time Larrakia has fired shots to warn off the Japanese in the area. Complaints have been registered over the last couple of years and Larrakia fired shots early this year to enforce Australia’s borders. Federal Cabinet has discussed the issue as far back as 13th April and this latest incident is likely to revitalise the push for increased patrols in our territorial waters, including New Guinea.
Australian lugger captains say that previosly hauls of up to 1/2 a ton per day were possible, but this has dwindled to almost nothing since the Japanese arrived. The Japanese have often returned to their homeland after working on local vessels, where they can get a modern vessel to return to Australian waters. The Japanese vessels are often around twice the size of the Australian luggers and fitted with the latest diesel engines. Japanese captains know the area and usually have little trouble escaping if they hear of a patrol vessel in the area.
The Japanese seem to have a technological edge and are not above entering our waters to take what they need.