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Antarctic fishing patrol flight completed

Hon Phil Goff - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

20 January 2005

Antarctic fishing patrol flight completed

An Air Force Orion is returning to New Zealand after making an aerial search for illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

The RNZAF P3K Orion long-range maritime patrol aircraft carried out extensive surveillance of the Southern Ocean, including the Ross Sea, to detect any illegal, unregulated or unreported fishing. The flight was first of the current Antarctic fishing season for the valuable Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish.

Mr Goff said New Zealand was pleased to be able to help protect the Antarctic environment by deploying the patrol aircraft.

“Illegal fishing does terrible damage to the fish stocks of the Southern Ocean and to the seabirds that live there, such as albatrosses and petrels,” Mr Goff said.

The patrols are conducted in support of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), of which New Zealand is a founding member along with other members of the Antarctic Treaty System.

"During the patrols the Orions descend to as low as 60 metres above the sea to photograph and interrogate by radio any vessels in the area.

“A number of vessels were sighted. The observations from the patrol will be carefully analysed, and any possible violations of CCAMLR Conservation Measures will be reported to the Secretariat and to the Flag State concerned.

"Nineteen vessels from eight CCAMLR members are authorised to fish in the area, including five from New Zealand. They are required to carry international observers and obey strict environmental safeguards, including taking steps to ensure no seabirds are killed," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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