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Wednesday, 1 April 1987
Page: 1634

Senator SANDERS(5.33) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

This title sounds very dry-it is the variation agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and Seanorth Pty Ltd. It is really a victory for dolphins.

Senator Vigor —Long live the dolphins.

Senator SANDERS —Long live the dolphins, says Senator Vigor, and I endorse that sentiment. This is an agreement with a fishing company which is operating on behalf of Thailand. It will stop the use of gillnets in the fisheries in the north and substitute stern trawling methods. This is a direct result of the campaign launched last year by Greenpeace to stop the use of the long gillnets in the northern Australian waters. Some 10,000 dolphins had been drowned in the previous three years in these gillnets which are up to 20 kilometres long and 15 metres deep. They are made of nylon which is a very tough substance. The dolphins could not detect it with their sonar and they were entangled in the nets and drowned-not a pleasant or pretty death.

The campaign by Greenpeace was successful. The Government, to its eternal credit, decided not only to do something about the Taiwanese who were operating the gillnets at that time-they did reduce the size of the nets, which apparently has helped quite a bit in the preservation of the dolphins-but also to eliminate the use of gillnets entirely for the Thailand fisheries. The problem still exists, of course, with dolphins and gillnets. The Japanese are still using them in the Pacific Ocean. I would ask that the Australian Government put whatever pressure it can on the Japanese to forestall the further killing of dolphins because they are killing some 5,000 porpoises or dolphins every year in the high seas gillnet fishery and also they kill some 250,000 to 750,000 sea birds which are also caught in these nets. I wish the Japanese Government was as considerate of the well-being of dolphins and, indeed sea birds as was the Australian Government.

The program of Greenpeace to bring the gillnetting of dolphins to the people's attention, and ultimately to get government action, shows what can happen when an informed body such as Greenpeace lobbies the Government with good information; the Government then responds and takes action which is in the best interests of not only the dolphins but also, I believe, the people. I commend the Government for the action which it has taken.

Question resolved in the affirmative.