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Thursday, 12 February 2015
Page: 602


Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (12:40): I move:

That the Senate—

(a) acknowledges the efforts of the Sea Shepherd in tracking, locating and reporting to authorities the presence of illegal fishing vessels in the Southern Ocean; and

(b) calls on the Australian Government to meet its election commitment and immediately deploy a customs patrol vessel to the Southern Ocean to deter illegal fishing.

Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a very short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: In the Southern Ocean at the moment, dozens of brave souls on board Sea Shepherd boats are pursuing two illegal fishing vessels that have been operating down in Australia's area of economic interest. These vessels are taking Patagonian toothfish, which are very high-value fish. These activities impact on the Australian fisheries in the area and the gillnets in place, some of them up to 25 kilometres long, do extraordinary damage to the marine environment. They are banned by international law.

This government had very clear promises both in Senator Colbeck's portfolio and in Senator Hunt's portfolio that they would send a Customs vessel to the Southern Ocean. We had tripartisan support from a Senate inquiry that we would also send a Customs vessel to patrol for illegal fishing vessels in the Southern Ocean. The Royal New Zealand Navy has apprehended these vessels, but they are still there. Where is our Australian boat? I ask the Senate to support this motion. I ask the government to live up to its election promises and send the vessel that they promised to send. (Time expired)