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Coasts and Oceans


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

1 December 2006

Success in combating illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean

The Australian Government has scored a win in the fight against illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean at the annual Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart.

Australian measures to prevent illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in the CCAMLR region were adopted by the Commission.

"Member and Party nations agreed to a binding Conservation Measure placing an interim prohibition on deep-sea gill-netting in the CCAMLR Convention Area, stronger port controls and improvements to the Patagonian toothfish Catch Documentation Scheme," the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said.

"We need these measures if we are to make significant headway in the fight against illegal fishing.

"It is becoming apparent that some fishing vessels operating illegally in CCAMLR and adjacent waters are not only taking Patagonian toothfish but are also targeting sharks.

"This is a particularly worrying trend as it appears that demersal gillnets are beginning to be used. These nets are pulled along or close to the ocean floor and are not selective about what they catch.

"The Australian Government is opposed to needlessly destructive fishing techniques and the use of these kinds of gill-nets in the CCAMLR region is extremely hazardous to the delicate ecosystem."

Australian Customs team observing a fishing boat operating in the Southern Ocean.

Australian Customs team from the patrol boat Oceanic Viking observes fishing boat operating in the Banzare Bank area of the Southern Ocean. Photo: Australian Customs

The Commission also agreed to stronger cooperation with nations that are not members of CCAMLR to ensure that fish pirates cannot unload their illegal catches, such as Patagonian toothfish.

"It is clear that CCAMLR member countries alone cannot combat the activities of all illegal fishers," Senator Campbell said.

"In order to make significance progress against illegal fishing we must encourage other countries to monitor vessels and control catches to ensure they are not used as ports of convenience to unload illegally-caught fish.

"By limiting the number of nations that turn their backs to illegal fishing we will be able to identify offending parties and take action against them."

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government had a responsibility as a world leader in Antarctic science to ensure the protection of the continent and the surrounding ocean for the benefit of future generations.

"The community has spoken and the Government has listened.

US court decision sends powerful message to illegal fishers

The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell has welcomed a United States court decision finding Antonio Vidal Pego, a Spanish national, and Fadilur S.A, a Uruguayan company, guilty on charges of attempting to illegally import and sell Patagonian Toothfish.

"This result comes after an international hunt that involved law enforcement officers of several countries, including Australia, to bring to justice the main players involved in the insidious illegal toothfish trade," said Minister Campbell.

Minister Campbell welcomed the tough penalties handed down by the court and said that this sets a precedent in the global fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. "By handing down a guilty verdict a Florida Court has sent the clear message that the international community will not tolerate the pillaging of our oceans and will take strong action to prevent illegal fishing."

"Illegal fishing is a serious threat to the conservation of the Southern Ocean ecosystem; it degrades fish stocks and long lines take an enormous death toll on albatross and other endangered seabirds," Minister Campbell said.

In May 2004, Antonio Vidal Pego and Fadilur, S.A. attempted to import approximately 25 tonnes of toothfish from Singapore into Miami, for sale in the United States. The fish were taken and transported in violation of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

Antonio Vidal Pego was placed on probation for four years, and is required to cease all involvement in the toothfish industry, direct or indirect. Additionally, a fine of $400,000 was also imposed against Vidal by the Court.

The Uruguayan company, Fadilur, S. A., was also placed on probation for a period of four years. Additionally, the company was fined $100,000, and is required to cease all corporate activities and dissolve as a business entity within 45 days of the judgment being handed down.

Orange roughy added to threatened species list

An orange roughy. Picture: Matt Curnock

Orange roughy. Photo: NORFANZ

The orange roughy fish species will be added to the threatened species list under Australian environment law, the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell has announced.

"Orange roughy is the first commercially harvested fish to be listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999," Senator Campbell said.

Orange roughy will be listed as conservation dependent, and will be managed subject to a conservation programme to be implemented by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).

"Scientific advice to me indicated that orange roughy is under considerable pressure and protection under environment law is needed if the species is to have any chance of long-term survival," Senator Campbell said.

The conservation programme will protect orange roughy from over-fishing, in part by prohibiting targeted fishing in fishing zones.

Catch limits at the Cascade Plateau will be set at levels that will conserve the species - AFMA has already announced a reduction in the zone's 2007 total allowable orange roughy catch.

"My decision to add the orange roughy to the threatened species list follows careful consideration of the scientific information, as well as extensive consultation with experts and the public," Senator Campbell said.

Orange roughy are found in south-eastern and south-western Australia, the Great Australian Bight and around Tasmania, and have been one of the primary species caught in Australia's south-east fisheries since the late 1980s. It can live to well over 100 years, and reach maturity at between 20 and 30 years of age. Unlike many fish species, its reproduction rate is low.

"My decision reflects the Australian Government's commitment to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of our natural resources," Senator Campbell said.

Further information about the listing of the orange roughy under the EPBC Act will be available online at:

Australia leads the world in push for carbon storage under the ocean floor

Carbon capture research.

Carbon capture research. Photo: CO2 CRC.

Australia has successfully led an international push to allow carbon to be stored deep beneath the ocean floor as part of global efforts to address climate change, according to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell.

An international agreement, known as the London Protocol, which governs the responsible and environmentally sensible management of wastes and other matters in the marine environment, was amended in London in November.

The Australian-led amendments, championed by Senator Campbell, will allow member countries to capture carbon-dioxide streams and store them in geological formations deep under the ocean floor, while protecting the marine environment.

"This is a win for Australia but more importantly for the international fight against climate change," said Senator Campbell.

"Carbon capture and storage - or geosequestration - is one of the crucial tools in our toolbox. These technologies are relatively new but have enormous potential to help the world reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

"This Australian-led push will now enable carbon to be stored under the ocean floor in a safe, responsible and environmentally effective way, while potentially making a substantial contribution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

"What this really means is we can put the carbon that we extract from under the ocean floor through gas and other mineral exploration - carbon that has been sitting there for millions of years - back where it belongs.

"Geosequestration uses largely existing technology, but applies it in a new way to permanently prevent the captured carbon-dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

"Like onshore geosequestration, storing carbon dioxide beneath the ocean floor will be an important part of our 'multi-track' response to climate change.

"It is an example of the important role low emission technologies can play. Australia has consistently argued that a range of technologies will be needed to address climate change." Senator Campbell said that climate change is now being recognised as a serious problem by the international community, and that the Australian Government has welcomed this opportunity to again negotiate practical international solutions in the fight against climate change.

"It is important that national and international legal frameworks keep up with the rapid rate of development of new technologies to lessen the effects of climate change," Senator Campbell said.

The Australian Government is driving the development of these low-emission technologies at home through its $500 million Low Emission Technology Demonstration Fund.

Agreement on trans Tasman marine conservation measures

Australia and New Zealand have reached agreement on a range of marine environmental measures which pave the way for a new era of ocean management between the two countries.

Four key areas of marine environmental protection were identified as priorities for co-operation at the meeting of the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council in Christchurch, New Zealand on 24 November. They were:

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell was represented at the talks by his Parliamentary Secretary Greg Hunt MP, who led negotiations with New Zealand's Minister for Conservation, Mr Chris Carter MP.

At the conclusion of the talks, Senator Campbell said "The Governments of Australia and New Zealand are showing the world what cooperation can achieve in marine environment protection and biodiversity conservation and today's agreement strengthens our ties."

Mr Carter said the communiqué marked an exciting opportunity for both countries.

"I look forward to significant progress resulting from this initiative. Australia and New Zealand face many of the same marine issues," Mr Carter said.

"There is no fence between our waters. We can help each other, and in doing so we can help the marine species we share."

$12 million research collaboration for Ningaloo Reef Region

Green turtle tracks at Ningaloo. Image courtesy of Robert Thorn and the Department of the Environment and Heritage.

Green turtle tracks at Ningaloo. Image courtesy of Robert Thorn and DEH

The Minister for Education, Science and Training the Hon Julie Bishop MP has announced a $12 million research collaboration for Western Australia's Ningaloo Reef Region.

The research collaboration will be led by Murdoch University in collaboration with Curtin University of Technology, The Sustainable Tourism CRC, The University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan University, The University of Queensland, The Australian National University and CSIRO's Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship.

"The Ningaloo region is a unique marine ecosystem and we need to ensure that we understand how we can best manage and conserve it for the future," Minister Bishop said.

"The cluster will bring the research capacity of eight institutions together to address the challenges affecting the management strategy for the Ningaloo Marine Park and adjacent coastal regions.

"It will be a unique research project for the Ningaloo region which will examine the reef's habitats and biodiversity along with the human uses of the reef, and the social and economic aspects of tourism in the region.

"The aim is to develop integrated computer models and having these readily adopted to drive the effective planning for conservation and sustainable development."

Minister Bishop said the Cluster would complement the research being undertaken by the Ningaloo Research Program that is part of the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI), a programme initiated by the Western Australian Government.

All research results will be shared with WAMSI and other government agencies to deliver information and management data to ensure the conservation and appropriate development options for the region.

As part of the $305 million over seven years provided by the Australian Government to the National Research Flagships, $97 million was specifically allocated to further enhance collaboration between CSIRO, Australian universities and other publicly funded research agencies.

The Flagship Collaboration Fund enables the skills of the wider Australian research community to be applied to the major national challenges targeted by CSIRO's Flagship Initiative.

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