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Tuesday, 22 March 1966

Mr Webb (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) b asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -

As it is understood that the Japanese are finding it profitable to fish for tuna in the waters off the Western Australian coast, will he arrange for research to be undertaken into commercial fishing possibilities in these waters and also in the Great Australian Bight?

Mr Adermann - The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows -

My Department is working in close co-operation with the various State fisheries authorities in a continuing endeavour to extend our fishing operations as widely as possible.

In 1961, £40,000 was made available from the Fisheries Development Trust Account to meet the cost of a tuna survey off the south-west coast of Western Australia. The survey was carried out by one of Australia's leading tuna fishermen using one of the most successful boats and crews but unfortunately quantities of tuna on which a commercial fishery could be based were not found in the area.

Other surveys using fishing vessels and aircraft and aimed at extending the tuna fishery in area and/or in length of season have been, or are at present being, carried out off the coasts of South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. I might mention that the annual tuna catch over the past five years has increased from 5,000 short tons to 8,000 short tons.

A couple of years ago with funds from the Trust Account three Australian experts were sent to Japan, Hawaii and Samoa to examine economics of the tuna long line fishing technique. Their report stated that under the existing cost-price structure in Australia the long line method of catching tuna could not be profitably undertaken by Australian fishermen on a year-round basis. I understand that in recent years the Japanese themselves have been experiencing some difficulties in keeping these long-lining operations profitable.

Regarding the Great Australian Bight, as the honorable member may be aware, a substantial sum of money from the Trust Fund was expended in a sustained endeavour over two rears to establish a commercial trawling operation in the Bight. Difficulties in catching adequate quantities of acceptable species of fish and in marketing the catch satisfactorily were experienced.

Fisheries authorities, both Commonwealth and State, are continuing very actively to look for ways of developing the fisheries industry, .particularly the tuna industry.

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