It is believed that a group of people is on the run in the north of Queensland after the authorities were in an abandoned boat.
The Australian border guard said it responds to what is supposed to be an illegal fishing vessel in the Daintree River area in Far North Queensland.
ABF officers are on the spot and the Queensland Police offers "additional law enforcement assistance".
The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that 11 people are established.
In a statement, a ministry spokesman said their first priority was to confirm the safety and well-being of the people on board the ship.
Daintree tour operator David Patterson said that local fishermen in the region were surprised to see the foreign ship floating in the river.
"I had just done a fishing trip this morning at the mouth of the Daintree and we saw this boat that looked like Chinese junk at Cape Kimberley," he said.
"It was empty and apparently other things were said on the radio, it was adrift and before that people were seen leaving it behind and running away in the bush at Cape Kimberley.
"We have seen this boat and have not thought much about it after the radio report [we heard] it was abandoned and people were seen leaving it. "