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Australia Takes Legal Action Against Japan

JOINT STATEMENT

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Mark Vaile

Federal Attorney-General, Daryl Williams

July 16

Australia Takes Legal Action Against Japan Over Tuna Fishing

Australia has begun legal action over Japan’s unilateral decision to recommence ‘experimental fishing’ for southern bluefin tuna (SBT), the Federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister, Mark Vaile, and the Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, said today.

The Ministers said the arbitration proceedings, which fall under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, will also seek a declaration that Japan’s ‘experimental fishing’ is contrary to international law.

"Australia had little option but to commence legal proceedings after Japan’s decision on 1 June to recommence its harmful ‘experimental fishing’ for SBT in waters close to Australia," Mr Williams said.

"Australia has requested that Japan halt its unilateral experimental fishing pending resolution of proceedings. If Japan does not agree to do so voluntarily within two weeks, it will be open to Australia to approach the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, Germany to seek a provisional order to that effect.

"SBT is a highly migratory fish and countries are obliged under international law to conserve and manage such species cooperatively," he said.

Mr Vaile said, "Japan’s actions have frustrated the cooperative management of SBT and, through its unilateral experimental fishing, Japan is now taking SBT well in excess of the catch limits previously agreed within the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna. Japan’s actions are unacceptable.

"Australia warned Japan on 10 June that its actions were provocative and contrary to its obligations under international law, and that we would not allow it to go unchallenged.

"The Government sincerely hopes the arbitral tribunal will elaborate the principles under which highly migratory species, such as SBT, can be managed and conserved into the future," Mr Vaile said.

The Ministers said New Zealand has also commenced similar legal action against Japan, and that the two countries would cooperate closely.

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