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NZ To Undertake Surveillance In The Ross Sea

MEDIA RELEASE
HON PHIL GOFF

9 February 2000

NEW ZEALAND TO UNDERTAKE SURVEILLANCE IN THE ROSS SEA REGION


"Scarcity has driven the price of toothfish up to very high levels, creating the potential to draw poachers into waters off the Ross Dependency in Antarctica", Foreign Minister, Hon Phil Goff, said today.

"The Government has asked observers on New Zealand vessels fishing in the area and national representatives on tour vessels to look out for illegal activity.

Mr Goff was welcoming the appointment of the Captain and other senior officers of the Tangaroa as CCAMLR designated inspectors. The NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) vessel Tangaroa will be on alert for illegal toothfish poaching activities while carrying out charter work in the Southern Ocean this month for the Antarctic Division of Environment Australia.

"Illegal activity is continuing unabated in other areas of the Southern Ocean, and constitutes a serious threat to these resources regulated by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

The Tangaroa will play an important role if any activity requires investigation. We're also planning aerial surveillance of the area," Mr Goff said.

"The recently agreed international Catch Documentation Scheme aims to close down markets in the US and Japan for illegally caught toothfish and will shortly be implemented in New Zealand", Mr Goff added. We expect a public consultation document to be released about the scheme this month.

This year three New Zealand vessels were authorised under CCAMLR to fish in the Ross Sea and undertake research about the little known toothfish. "New Zealand hopes other states party to CCAMLR will wait until more information is known about the stocks in the region before sending their vessels to the area" said Mr Goff. The season runs from January to mid April, when ice conditions allow fishing vessels into the extreme southern latitudes.

ENDS

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