File picture: SAPS Twitter

Canberra - A Vietnamese man was arrested at Australia's Adelaide Airport after he allegedly tried to smuggle into the country an exotic live fish in a plastic bag around his neck. 

The 34-year-old man, who arrived off a flight from Malaysia, produced the plastic bag containing the fish during a frisk search, Australian Border Force (ABF) said in a statement on Sunday.

The incident took place on Tuesday. 

According to Australian law, the maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences is 10 years imprisonment with a fine of up to 210,000 dollars (150,000 US dollars) for individuals and a million dollars for corporations.

The fish, which was assessed for biosecurity risk, was found to be a Red Asian Arowana, an endangered species native to South East Asia and also considered auspicious in Chinese and other Asian cultures. 

It is illegal to own an Asian Arowana in Australia unless legally imported, while trade in the fish is strictly controlled under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

ABF said the fish had to be humanely euthanized since exotic species imported illegally could become pests and introduce new diseases. 

The Vietnamese man was arrested. He will appear in court on May 15.

dpa