Two boats carrying 51 suspected asylum seekers were intercepted by authorities in Australian waters as reports said that nearly 5,000 such people had been shipped to the country last year.

The latest interceptions came even as negotiations between the government and the opposition remain struck on border protection.

One boat carrying 35 passengers and two crew members was intercepted southwest of Ashmore Islands. The boat was later assisted towards north of the Tiwi Islands, according to a report in AAP.

Another boat, carrying 16 passengers and one crew member, was detected by a maritime patrol aircraft after a tip-off from an offshore oil and gas operator.

Border Protection Command will transfer the passengers to Christmas Island for security, health and identity checks.

Last month, Australian Navy said it intercepted a boatload of asylum seekers trying to make their way to Australia. On board were 76 asylum seekers and three crew members.

Latest reports said people smugglers sent 69 boats carrying nearly 5,000 asylum seekers to Australia last year and the human cargo is likely to keep coming in 2012.

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