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Polished trochus shell

Date: 1980s
Overall: 79 x 74 x 85 mm, 127 g
Medium: Shell
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Australian Customs Service
Object Name: Trochus shell
Object No: AX001097

User Terms

    These four pairs of hand-made goggles and trochus shells were seized by the Australian Customs Service. They were used in poaching the shell.
    SignificanceThese items reflect a period of political tension between Australia and Indonesia during the 1980s over illegal fishing in Australian waters. They include interesting and rare examples of hand-carved wooden diving goggles.
    HistoryThe Trochus shell is a prohibited import and export item under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. It has been highly sought after to produce the metallic finish in paints and fingernail varnishes.

    During the 1970s and 1980s, heavy fishing pressure in Indonesian waters resulted in stock depletion and loss of marine habitats, and made fishing in Australian waters increasingly attractive to Indonesian fishers. High international prices for fresh or live reef fish, trepang (sea cucumber), shark fin and trochus resulted in unsustainable fishing practices, including the destruction (blasting and poisoning) of reefs. Added to this, returns from illegal fishing were high by comparison to those available to most local villagers in eastern Indonesia.

    During the 1970s, fishers from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Taiwan often fished in northern Australian waters. However from the 1980s, the Australian Government began to more instensively police the northern coastal waters.

    These goggles and trochus shells were taken by the Australian Customs Service from Indonesian fishing vessels found in Australian waters during the late 1980s.

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