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Surveillance flight to check for illegal fishing


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

17 January 2003

Surveillance flight to check for illegal fishing underway

The first surveillance flight of the Southern Ocean and Ross Sea for the 2002/03 fishing season is underway, Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff announced today.

The Air Force Orion left Dunedin early this morning on the 11-hour mission.

“This is the sixth consecutive year that New Zealand has undertaken surveillance in the Ross Sea because of concern about the potential for illegal fishing in the region.

“New Zealand is a member of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) based in Hobart which manages an ‘exploratory fishery’ in the Ross Sea area for Antarctic toothfish.

“Demand for toothfish in markets such as the United States, Japan and Europe is high and illegal fishing has seriously depleted stocks and caused enormous damage to seabird populations elsewhere in the Southern Ocean.

“In addition to the New Zealand vessels which have permits this season to take toothfish from the Ross Sea area, several others, from Russia, South Africa, Spain and Japan have also been approved by CCAMLR to participate in the fishery.

“New Zealand is concerned to ensure that these waters are fished in accordance with CCAMLR Conservation Measures

“Illegal fishing for toothfish was connected in some cases with organised crime. This not only poses a serious threat to the fragile Antarctic environment but to the rule of law and even the Antarctic Treaty system itself. It is vital that all CCAMLR members do their utmost to exercise fully their flag state responsibilities in respect of their vessels,” Mr Goff said.

The newly established National Maritime Coordination Centre is involved in coordinating the surveillance effort together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Fisheries.

ENDS

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