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Joint Media Release
Senator Warwick Parer,Minister for Resources and Energy
Senator Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment
An Australian fishing company has been conducting developmental fishing around the island with a single vessel for the last two seasons.
The major fish species in the area is the Patagonian toothfish, which is sold overseas as frozen fish fillets and cutlets.
The Commonwealth will licence one vessel to fish commercially around the island for the next two years. The licence will be issued according to clear and competitive selection criteria.
The total allowable catch (TAC) from the waters around the island will be restricted. The TAC will be set on the basis of scientific evidence later this year, and will be no greater than the total 1995-96 catch.
Commonwealth agencies will conduct a two year research program to identify the sustainable fishing level and to assess the extent of any other potential impacts associated with the establishment of a long term fishery.
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) will draw on expertise from CSIRO, the Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Australian Antarctic Division to develop the research program and identify a long term catch limit.
A second working group will provide advice on other issues associated with the fishery, including its potential impacts on seabirds and marine life.
The new management arrangements will ensure that fishing in the area is environmentally sustainable.
Senator Parer said "The arrangements will ensure that Australia obtains the maximum return from the fish resources in these waters, while guaranteeing that any long term fishery established in the area is sustainable."
Senator Hill said "The high natural values of the island require that a conservative approach is taken to the development and future management of the fishery. I am therefore very pleased with the precautionary approach taken by the AFMA Board.
"The nomination of Macquarie Island for World Heritage listing is a high priority and I intend to ensure that any commercial fishing is compatible with these values."
Senator Parer said that the management of the fishery would be completely reviewed in two year's time, taking into account the results of the research program and an assessment of the stocks at that time.
Senator Parer's office: Mr Bob Baudino (0419) 438 818
Senator Hill's office: Matt Brown (06) 277 7640
AFMA: Martin Exel (06) 272 3260
DEST: Gerry Morvell (06) 274 1919