Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions



As community awareness of the need to protect the environment increases, so does awareness of environmental crime. 

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.

Prosecuting breaches of the Quarantine Act 1908 helps enforce Australia’s strict quarantine laws and protect 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 in contravention of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

Defendants are generally financially motivated as there may be a perception there is a low risk of being caught for this type of crime.

Key legislation

Main 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 Australian Fishing Zone is a fine of 2500 penalty units.
  • The maximum penalty for importing a live specimen is 10 years’ imprisonment or 1000 penalty units, or both.

Penalty units are used to describe the amount payable for fines under commonwealth law.

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