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AUS: Halt To Unregulated Fishing

HON WARREN TRUSS MP MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY

5 AUGUST 1999 AFFA99/7WT

Truss Welcomes Halt To Unregulated Fishing In The South Tasman Rise

The Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, has welcomed the decision by South Africa and Belize to order their fishing vessels away from vulnerable orange roughy stocks in the South Tasman Rise (STR).

Mr Truss said that the three South African and one Belize registered vessels were recently discovered fishing a spawning aggregation of orange roughy in an area of the STR only four nautical miles from the Australian Fishing Zone.

"This unregulated and irresponsible action, which was effectively an around-the-clock operation, was undermining Australian and New Zealand efforts to manage the orange roughy stock sustainably," Mr Truss said.

The Minister said he was pleased the South African and Belize governments had listened to Australian concerns and had responded in an appropriate and responsible manner.

"The South African government has advised Australia that it has revoked the licences of its vessels, while Belize has deregistered its vessel," Mr Truss said. "Both Australia and New Zealand have declared they will prohibit the landing of catches taken by these boats and by any other unregulated vessels that attempt to take orange roughy from the STR.

"We have also requested detailed catch information and crew lists from South Africa in relation to the fishing by its vessels while on the STR.

"I welcome the cooperation of both governments to date and urge them to continue to work with us. I also urge others to take similar measures to prevent vessels operating under their jurisdiction from fishing in this area in an unregulated manner, and to make it clear any such catches would not be allowed into their own ports.

"All countries must recognise their obligations under the United Nations Law of Sea and the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement covering highly migratory and straddling fish stocks.

"It is the responsibility of these governments to ensure their flag state vessels use appropriate fishing practices and manage fish stocks responsibly.

"I remind them that the Australian Government is committed to protecting its valuable marine resources and its important fishing industry."

Mr Truss said that the Federal Government has committed an additional $200,000 to help identify and deal with Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, in cooperation with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

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