Border keepers call for baywatch


BORDER Watch officers have asked Mornington Yacht Club members to “look out for anything suspicious when [they are] out on the bay”.

Club office manager Sarah Grant said the Border Watch officers appeared to be focusing on public boat ramps.

“They were not after anything specific and they were in and out [of here] very quickly,” she said.

The club regarded the advice as “general information for members”.

The visit was part of a general sweep of the bay’s boat ramps.

Officers handed out leaflets headed “Small craft border crime – Know the Flags” which said criminals “may attempt to use small craft to bring drugs, illegal tobacco, weapons and dangerous chemicals into Australia”.

They referred to “suspicious” vessels as those anchored or operating in unusual areas; meeting other vessels at sea; displaying unusual draughts; not displaying navigation lights; going out in bad weather; returning to dock in a damaged condition or with scrape marks on their hulls; or those with unusual modifications.

Boaters were urged to alert Border Watch officers of “skippers or crews inquiring about Australian Border Force, police or other law enforcement activities, or those lacking local knowledge or unable to operate their boats properly”.

They were asked to “be on the lookout for unusual radio activity, such as cryptic radio messages or vessels not responding to radio contact; unusual objects at sea or washed up on shore, or hidden campsites or fuel dumps on beaches or in remote areas”.

A spokesperson said Australian Border Force officers “routinely undertake land and sea patrols to ensure the integrity of the … border, including on the Mornington Peninsula and the Port of Hastings”.

“These patrols include interactions with other vessels, boating and yacht clubs, and will include providing information and education about Border Watch.”

The Border Watch number for reporting “anything suspicious” is 1800 06 1800.

First published in the Mornington News – 2 June 2020


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