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Address to WWF Australia and Peregrine Shipping in honour of new partnership: Royal Hobart Yacht Club, Tasmania, 2 November 2004.



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Address WWF Australia and Peregrine Shipping in honour of new partnership

Royal Hobart Yacht Club, Tasmania - 2 November 2004

Thanks very much Greg, and congratulations on your appointment as the new CEO of WWF only a few weeks ago. You've obviously been very successful in that short time because they tell me that the CCAMLR meeting has gone very well last week and today, and so I credit you with all of that, and how well things are going!

Can I particularly welcome to Australia all the heads of delegations who are meeting at CCAMLR? Can I thank WWF and Peregrine for hosting this function tonight, and for the support that both have given to the endeavours and goals that we all share?

I'm particularly grateful to WWF for the work it does right around the world. I was delighted to meet with Claude Martin at the IUU roundtable organised by the OECD in Paris about 18 months ago. I'm also delighted to acknowledge that WWF has come on board the Ministerial Taskforce that has been set up following that roundtable to try and address, at a different level, the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing around the world. And WWF's involvement has been very special, and very significant, and I do very much thank you for that.

Greg, I know that you have done a lot of work in the three weeks you've been here. I note also (and I shouldn't start mentioning individuals) but, of course, it would be remiss of me if I didn't acknowledge Margaret Moore, who I think is the 'girlfriend' of all of us. If any of you have been to these meetings at any time, or been to Australia even once before, will know Margaret. And can I just warn you gentlemen to keep away from her? She's my favourite person - don't make me jealous.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's particularly good today to see the Mauritius delegation here, and I know it's their first time officially at CCAMLR, and I'm personally delighted to see the commitment they've made. I had the very good fortune of meeting with the Prime Minister and Fisheries Minister of Mauritius just in February this year, when it seemed that the involvement of Mauritius in CCAMLR was just something everyone wanted to happen but doubted that it ever would.

So I'm delighted, Your Excellency and Head of Delegation, to see you here at this CCAMLR meeting. In years gone by Mauritius was sometimes thought to be one of those places that facilitated the illegal trade in toothfish - not in recent times, I might mention. But it's great to see now that Mauritius is one of those nations that have come onboard to try and stamp out the illegal trade in toothfish, and other illegal fishing around the world.

I did particularly want to thank all of the delegations for their commitment to the work of CCAMLR, and also to the industry members, who I note are at tonight's function as well, and who I know make a very special effort to help us in the fight against illegal fishing.

Of course, the illegal fishermen know no rules, they acknowledge no constraints, they have no interest in the human welfare or the safety issues of their crew and they are an environmental scourge - and that's why it's so important that all responsible nations join together to address the problem, and to really stamp out illegal fishing as best we can. And I think together we can do it. When I say together I mean governments around the world meeting through CCAMLR, various NGOs, the industry, if we work together we can achieve that goal.

I don't want to pre-empt the decisions of CCAMLR, but I am told that there is a very positive feel for the CVMS proposal, and I would be very, very pleased if CCAMLR did make the decision to go permanently with that Centralised Vessel Monitoring System. I'm also told that there is a lot of progress being made on the electronic documentation scheme and, again, to achieve that would be a real milestone in the work of CCAMLR.

I'm particularly conscious that the United States has led a lot of the work there and I want to thank them, from Australia's point of view, for the way that they did ban the imports from the Arvisa I, a vessel that was discovered, or come across by an Australian vessel, and I'm delighted that the United States took the action to ban imports from the Arvisa I.

Talking about the Viarsa, I'm not sure if foreign delegations are as aware of the Viarsa as we in Australia are of course. But while I'm here, can I also acknowledge the assistance South Africa and the United Kingdom gave to the Australian Government in arresting the Viarsa? It went across three seas in the Southern Ocean, in a 21-day chase - the longest chase in Australian maritime history. We were able to apprehend the vessel eventually with the very good assistance, very significant assistance, of the people from South Africa and the United Kingdom - so we, as a nation, are very grateful to those two countries for their work.

I also do want to acknowledge our brothers and sisters across the narrow straight here between Australia and the seventh State of Australia, that's New Zealand, on the work they've been doing. It's good to see the work they're doing. I acknowledge they have a lot of problems down in the Ross Sea area, and it is very important that all responsible nations do ensure that the rules of CCAMLR are applied, that if we are going to flag vessels we should know where those vessels come from, what they're doing, we should be able to keep a very close watch on them and ensure, as I say, that the rules of CCAMLR are respected.

I note the Uruguayan delegation is here, and I thank them for the work they've done. We've caught a few flagged Uruguayan vessels, the most recent being the Maya V, but I know the Uruguayan Government is very conscious of that. I should, perhaps, say to the Uruguayan delegation, if it would take back our collective congratulations, I guess, to their new Prime Minister or President, I'm not quite sure what it is, but Uruguay has just had an election and we do look forward very much to working with the new government to further the aims of CCAMLR. I will make sure that that message is as well passed on.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is good to see you all here. It's good to be with the CCAMLR delegations at a time when there does seem to be a very positive feel in the air. Can I thank you for the work that you do and can I assure you that Australia will continue to work with CCAMLR, and with you through CCAMLR to stamp out illegal fishing wherever it occurs?

I say this on behalf of my Prime Minister and my government (and I also do

want to mention that I'm not sure if he's with us at the moment, but very shortly our Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell will be joining us, and I know Senator Campbell shares my view) that Australia wants to work as closely as we can with all of you to stamp out illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing wherever it occurs.

Thank you for the work you do. Good luck. I wish you well in your deliberations tomorrow and in the future, and keep up the good fight.