The fourteen Chilean crewmember retained in Australia following the arrest of Cambodian flagged longliner Taruman illegally catching toothfish in Australian waters should be returning in two weeks time.
Jorge Cofré president of the Punta Arenas branch of the Special Vessels Crew and Officers union ratified that the Australian government will not be pressing charges against any of the Chileans currently retained in Villawood, Sydney airport.
Australian Migration will be responsible for embarking the Chilean crew members, seven of which from Punta Arenas, and the bookings have already been made in Lan Chile, added Mr. Cofré.
However a proposal from Dean Summers, coordinator of the International Transport Workers Federation to have them immediately freed was rejected by Australian authorities. The fourteen will be returning in two different groups October 12 and 14.
Mr. Cofré praised the Chilean Foreign Office for its quick response to the situation and greater commitment, "this time", apparently influenced by a Chilean television investigative report showing the appalling conditions of Chilean crew members working in convenience flagged vessels, "mostly pirates".
He doubted the company owner of the Taruman would be paying back salaries and other compensations before the Chileans leave Australia.
Meantime the Australian Fisheries Management Authority announced it was pressing charges for illegal fishing against the Master and Fishing Master of the Taruman. When the vessel was boarded by Customs and Fisheries officers in early September she was found to be carrying 143 tons of poached Patagonian toothfish.
The maximum penalty for fishing illegally in the Australian Fishing Zone is 825.000 Aus dollars plus forfeiture of the vessel, catch and gear.