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Senator Warwick Parer, Minister for Resources and Energy
Senator Ian Campbell, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment
Joint Media Release

CCAMLR XV
Increased Protection for the Environment and Controlled Fishing Opportunities in the Southern Ocean


1 November 1996

Senator Ian Campbell, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Antarctica, and Senator Warwick Parer, Minister for Resources and Energy, today welcomed new opportunities for the controlled expansion of Australia's sub-Antarctic fishing effort under strict environmental guidelines.

They were commenting on the outcome of the 15th meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) held in Hobart from 21 October - 1 November 1996.

They announced that CCAMLR had agreed, amongst other measures, to a new precautionary approach to fishing in the region which includes the 200 mile Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) around Heard and McDonald Islands.

CCAMLR accepted the advice of its Scientific Committee and set a revised catch limit for Patagonian toothfish which will allow for a catch of up to 3800 tonnes during 1996/97 season.

The revised estimate takes account of new developments in scientific assessments of the total population of toothfish and the methods used to calculate a catch limit for the fishery.

Senator Parer said that this will provide opportunities for Australian industry to participate in the controlled development of fisheries in the region under strict environmental regulations.

Senator Campbell said that at CCAMLR Australia undertook to enforce strict environmental regulations including a limit on the number of vessels, and argued successfully to limit fishing to trawling only so as to avoid seabird mortality, and tight scientific monitoring of fishing activity.

Australia will set even higher national standards of environmental protection in implementing the precautionary approach to fishing in the AFZ. Australia had already announced at CCAMLR that it will restrict access to our sub-Antarctic zone around Heard and McDonald Islands to no more than three vessels.

In addition, Senator Parer noted that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority will require all operators to comply with a range of other measures including the use of satellite monitoring of vessel positions and the presence of two scientific observers on all vessels in the AFZ in CCAMLR waters.

CCAMLR also considered several proposals for the establishment of "new fisheries", including one by Australia. Progress was made on new fisheries issues at CCAMLR which will ensure that all new fisheries for Patagonian toothfish in the sub-Antarctic oceans will take place under tight precautionary scientific guidelines.

Within the range of catches considered by CCAMLR for each fishery, Australia successfully urged the adoption of lower, more precautionary levels during the developmental phase. Australia played a leading role in securing new important arrangements for avoiding concentrated fishing in localised areas.

" The restriction of fishing to 1980 tonnes in the majority of the new fisheries and limiting fishing to no more than 100 tonnes in any one locality set new standards in the precautionary development of sub-Antarctic fisheries. For the first time, there are controls for the orderly development of fishing in sub- Antarctic waters" Senator Campbell said.

Senator Parer added that a major breakthrough had been the establishing of the first precautionary catch limit for krill in the Antarctic waters immediately to the south of Australia. This was achieved as a result of a major marine survey carried out by the Australian Antarctic Division.

Senator Campbell welcomed the continuing efforts of CCAMLR to protect seabirds from the effects of longlining, and the requirement for international scientific observers to be present on vessels participating in new fisheries for Patagonian toothfish. "I am particularly pleased to note that CCAMLR has increased funding for the collection of scientific information on fishing. This will provide for even stronger management of these fisheries in the future", Senator Campbell said.

Senator Campbell fully supported CCAMLR's initiative in agreeing to develop closer co-operation with the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna on the problems of interactions between longline fishing operations and sea birds.

Senator Campbell was delighted by the enthusiastic support given by CCAMLR to the educational booklet, "Fish the Sea, Not the Sky", for fishers. The Commission thanked Australia for its technical contributions to this book and for meeting the costs of its publication. He also welcomed CCAMLR's decision to complement this book with a sea bird identification guide for use on fishing boats which is being developed by New Zealand. Senator Campbell said these initiatives will help lead to a wider understanding and acceptance amongst all fishing operators of measures to reduce seabird mortality.

Contacts:

Rex Moncur, AAD, 0419 399 009

Mary Harwood, DPIE, 0419 260 930

Geoff Rohan, AFMA, 0418 486 156

Mark Elliot, Senator Campbell's Office, 0419 238 747

Bill McKinley, Senator Parer's Office, 0419 607 487

Commonwealth of Australia