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Vessels sighted on Antarctic patrol flight

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

16 December 2005
Media Release

Vessels sighted on Antarctic patrol flight

Several fishing vessels were observed on the first RNZAF surveillance patrol over the Ross Sea for the 2005/06 fishing season, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said today.

The P3K Orion aircraft, from 5 Squadron, returned on Thursday evening after its twelve hour flight to the edge of the Antarctic sea ice and back. A number of vessels were observed.

Data collected by the patrol will be analysed by experts in Wellington. Any irregularities found will be reported to the flag-State concerned and to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) Secretariat in Hobart.

“These patrols aim to deter and detect illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand takes its responsibilities as a member of CCAMLR very seriously. These patrols are one way we can provide valuable support.”

The RNZAF patrols had been very effective, Mr Peters said. In June this year, they detected an IUU fishing vessel, Taruman, in the CCAMLR Area south of New Zealand and later in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone around Macquarie Island. The information was passed to CCAMLR and the Australians, and the vessel was subsequently intercepted and arrested.

IUU fishing in the Southern Ocean damages fish stocks and kills many albatrosses and petrels because the illegal operators, mainly linked to criminal syndicates, do not use the seabird by-catch mitigation devices that legal fishers are required to have.

“New Zealand is committed to helping stamp out IUU fishing in Antarctic waters and works closely with countries such as Australia, the United States and the European Community,” Mr Peters said.

New Zealand is a founding member of CCAMLR, which has 24 members and is part of the Antarctic Treaty System. The toothfish fishery, managed by CCAMLR, opened on 1 December.

ENDS

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