JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES
MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND
24 February 1999
Australia Warns-Off Foreign Fishing Vessel In Sub-Antarctic
An Australian fisheries patrol detected and warned-off a foreign fishing vessel which moved to within 12 kilometres of Australian territorial waters cast of Australia's remote subAntarctic Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) on Tuesday 23 February, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Mark Vaile, the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Robert Hill and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer announced today.
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) fishing patrol aboard the civilian charter vessel, Cape Grafton, locked radar onto the 43-metre Belize-registered longliner Puerto Madryn just outside the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ), and warned the vessel by VHF radio not to enter or fish in the AFZ.
In announcing the warning-off of the Puerto Madryn the Ministers said the incident was the latest in a number of events which demonstrated Australia's commitment to deter foreign poaching of prized Patagonian toothfish in the sub-Antarctic.
"As part of our commitment to safeguard Australia's interest in the sub-Antarctic, we are monitoring the vessel closely to ensure it does not enter the AFZ," Mr Vaile said.
"While the vessel is operating outside the AFZ it is not fishing illegally," Mr Downer said. "However, we are concerned that Puerto Madryn is not fishing in accordance with the conservation measures set by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)," be added.
This is not the first time Puerto Madryn has been detected close to the Australian Fishing Zone, the Ministers said. The vessel was previously spotted from the air during the successful Royal Australian Navy (RAN)/AFMA operation in October 1997 which netted the Belizeflagged longliner, Salvora, and the Panamanian-flagged longliner, Aliza Glacial for illegal fishing in the AFZ.
AFMA's joint agency operation aboard the Cape Grafton is the latest in a series of successful patrols in the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) around Heard Island and McDonald Islands, the Ministers said. The operation forms another component of the Coastwatch Civil Surveillance Program which patrols Australian territory, the Ministers added.
"We are happy to announce that the current patrol has not encountered any illegal fishing operations within the AFZ, which goes to show that our strong and decisive action over the past two years is paying dividends," Mr Vaile said.
"From the outset the Government made it clear that Australia would not stand by and let our precious ecosystems and fisheries be plundered by illegal or irresponsible activities," Senator Hill said. "Australia's early and firm action has been vindicated."
"We will continue to be vigilant in the sub-Antarctic because we are aware that foreign vessels are still prowling the southern latitudes waiting for the opportunity to pounce,"
Vaile added. "That's where patrols like the current one are targeted."
During AFMA's patrol, the Cape Grafton and its crew are undertaking surveys on behalf of the Australian Geological Survey Organisation, and clean-up work on Heard Island on behalf of the Australian Antarctic Division. The vessel and crew also visited the remote French station on Kerguelen Island,
"This reflects the cooperative approach that Australia and France are taking to address the problem of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the sub-Antarctic," Mr Downer said.
Heard Island and Kerguelen Island are both part of the Kerguelen Plateau on which Australia and France have adjoining exclusive economic zones and fishing interests.
"Our efforts show that valued national resources can be protected from fish pirates," Mr Vaile said.
"Australia's committed and firm approach, together with cooperative action by other CCAMLR member countries, is clearly paying off," Senator Hill added.
For further information:
Office of Mark Vaile - Bruce Mills, Ph (02) 6277 7520
Australian Fisheries Management Authority - Mr Geoff Rohan, General Manager Operations, Ph (02) 6272 5052
Environment Australia - Dr Tony Press, Director Australian Antarctic Division, Ph (03) 6232 3200
Local Date: Friday, 06-Dec-2013 11:44:08 EST
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