Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Environment

Environment

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

Penalties

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.

Sentencing

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/ .

Relevant Legislation

Law Reform

  • Legislation

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.

  • Inquiries

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.

Significant Cases

  • Yu Long Yu v ACS – NSW District Court 08.02.2008 – Endangered species offences

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