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Talks to strengthen regional fisheries cooperation

17 August, 2004

New Zealand / Australia talks to strengthen regional fisheries cooperation

Bilateral fisheries talks between New Zealand and Australia this week are focusing on issues of common concern in our own backyard – the Tasman Sea, Pacific and Southern Oceans.

At the top of the agenda of meetings between officials from both countries being held in Wellington today and tomorrow, will be measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (so-called IUU fishing), and on strengthening the governance and management of high seas fishing in areas close to home.

The talks between officials are held annually, and build on the strong trans-Tasman cooperative relationship on fisheries matters. Australia and New Zealand work together in a number of regional organisations managing fisheries, principally in the Pacific and Southern Ocean around Antarctica. At this week’s talks, officials are likely to explore opportunities for building on this relationship, particularly in the Tasman Sea.

“New Zealand places a great deal of significance on fisheries cooperation with Australia,” said the Minister of Fisheries, Hon David Benson-Pope. “Our desire is to see that cooperation maintained and strengthened, with the aim of both our countries taking a leadership role internationally in fisheries management matters, and the protection of the marine environment.

“Perhaps the area in which cooperation between New Zealand and Australia is currently most evident is in the battle against IUU fishing. My membership, and that of my Australian counterpart on the OECD Ministerial Taskforce on IUU fishing, provides real opportunities for the two countries to influence international thinking and progress in this area.

“These talks are taking place at a time when global attention is increasingly focused on the sustainable management of fisheries resources but also on the impacts of fishing on the wider marine environment.

“There are opportunities in our region to take proactive steps to address a range of fisheries management issues and to demonstrate real leadership.

"New Zealand is involved in initiatives including funding biodiversity research in the Ross Sea, Antarctica and on the Norfolk Ridge and Lord Howe Rise. We are also opposing any trawling in the Ross Sea toothfish fishery.

"In 2001 New Zealand acted to protect seamounts, closing 19 seamounts in our EEZ to bottom trawling – an area covering around 100,000 square kilometres.

“New Zealand shares the concerns of the international community on the impacts of bottom trawl fishing on the biodiversity of the oceans, and the challenge now is to develop robust management frameworks and solutions to address the issue. We support initiatives for greater protection of areas of special sensitivity and ecological significance on the high seas."

ENDS

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