As the awareness of the need to protect the environment increases within the community, awareness of environmental crime grows. Environmental crime can include illegal trade in endangered species and plants, illegal fishing and environmental pollution such as the illegal disposal of waste and dumping of oil.
The prosecution of breaches of the Quarantine Act 1908 assists in the enforcement of Australia’s strict quarantine laws and the protection of Australia from threats posed by diseases and pests. Prosecutions may also involve unlawfully importing or exporting specimens that are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in contravention of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Defendants are generally financially motivated as there may be a perception that there is a low risk of being caught for this type of crime.
Commonly Used Offences
- s.100(2) Fisheries Management Act 1991 – using a foreign boat for fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ)
- s.303EK Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 – importing a live specimen
The maximum penalty for using a foreign boat for fishing in the AFZ is a fine of 2,500 penalty units.
The maximum penalty for importing a live specimen is 10 years imprisonment or 1,000 penalty units, or both.
The CDPP provides sentencing data to the Commonwealth Sentencing Database (CSD). Permission to access the CSD can be obtained at http://njca.com.au/sentencing/ .
- Australian Antarctic Territory Act 1954
- Quarantine Act 1908
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000
- Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981
- Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000
- Fisheries Management Act 1991
- Gene Technology Act 2000
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983
- Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989
- Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976
- Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989
- Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986
- Sea Installations Act 1987
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006
- Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983
There is a statutory requirement that the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is reviewed every 10 years. The first review concluded in 2009 with a report that recommended significant changes to the Act’s operation and administration. ‘The Australian Environment Act: report of the independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999’ (the Hawke Report 2009) was released in 2009.
In 2012 the CDPP provided a submission to the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs Inquiry into the arrangements surrounding crimes committed at sea.
- Yu Long Yu v ACS – NSW District Court 08.02.2008 – Endangered species offences