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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

3 November 2003

Australia Making Progress Towards Combating Illegal Fishing

Australia's initiatives to combat illegal fishing in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters have gained initial support from the majority of Members attending the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart this week.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone, said the Australian delegation had made good progress in the first week of CCAMLR on a number of critical issues including vessel monitoring, catch documentation and 'ships of shame' list.

"Debate by CCAMLR Members has so far shown strong support for Australia's proposal to introduce a centralised vessel monitoring system," Dr Stone said.

"Nearly all of the 24 Member States are providing their support for this initiative which will ensure that the fishing location of illegal operators cannot be as easily protected by rogue States.

"We have opened dialogue with the small number of States not supporting this initiative at this stage."

Dr Stone said another major focus of the CCAMLR meeting was the adoption of an illegal fishing vessel list will be presented to the Commission next week for their consideration.

"Australia is determined to make it tough for vessels suspected of illegal fishing and is calling for suspect vessels to be placed on a 'ships of shame' list.

Dr Stone said Australia is also supporting proposals to strengthen and standardise the current catch documentation scheme for toothfish.

"We are in the process of addressing any concerns from other Members, but it's early days in negotiations," Dr Stone said.

"Australia's desire to participate in a fully implemented electronic catch documentation scheme will ensure operators illegally fishing for toothfish will find it difficult to land their catch and falsely claim it was caught lawfully."

Dr Stone said the Australian Government was determined to make it more difficult for illegal operators, in particular by seeking compulsory independent verification and validation of the position of their fishing vessels and movements.

Commonwealth of Australia