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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
3 November 1998
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has branded the operators of illegal fishing vessels in Antarctic waters as modern day pirates who are putting at risk the future stocks of Patagonian toothfish.
Senator Hill has urged the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart to support Australia's efforts to crack down on illegal fishing.
CCAMLR was established as a global mechanism for the conservation and rational use of Antarctic marine living resources.
Senator Hill says CCAMLR must take decisive action this year on the major threat posed by illegal fishing.
"There is now serious concern that the continued high levels of illegal fishing are devastating Southern Ocean toothfish stocks.
"It has been estimated that illegal fishing operations in the Southern Ocean have resulted in the theft of fish valued at about $500 million in the past two years.
"This modern day form of piracy is having a dramatic impact on fish stocks while at the same time being responsible for the killing of a huge number of seabirds, including thousands of endangered albatrosses."
Senator Hill says the current CCAMLR meeting needs to send a strong message to illegal fishing operators that their time is up.
"The Howard Government has already established an international reputation for strong action against alleged illegal fishing vessels.
"The Navy has apprehended vessels for alleged illegal fishing in Australia's sub-Antarctic territorial waters, we are strengthening our fisheries laws, and we are providing resources for surveillance and enforcement.
"One country alone, however, cannot stop the illegal fishing trade. The proposals Australia is putting forward to CCAMLR are a blueprint for concerted international action against illegal fishing.
"Failure to endorse and act on these proposals will leave a major question mark over CCAMLR and its ability to effectively manage the resources of this important region."
The Australian proposals to CCAMLR would:
Matt Brown on 0419 693 515 or 02 6277 7640
November 3, 1998 (R698)