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Government hypocritical over fishing pressures.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 05/095 FRIDAY, 4 MARCH 2005 SENATOR BRIAN GREIG AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS FISHERIES SPOKESPERSON GOVERNMENT HYPOCRITICAL OVER FISHING PRESSURES The Australian Government is hypocritical to blame international fishing boats for overfishing, while at the same time mismanaging Commonwealth fish stocks at home. Australian Democrat Fisheries spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig says it is true that illegal fishers from countries outside the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) treaty are pushing stocks of Patagonian toothfish way beyond their limits, but that is only part of the problem. “In our toothfish fisheries, Australians are setting a good example but this example has yet to be taken up by the Federal Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald,” Senator Greig said. “The Minister is overseeing a domestic industry in which at least sixteen of our most valuable commercial fish, including southern bluefin tuna, orange roughy and eastern gemfish, are recognised as over-fished. Yet, Senator Macdonald still fails to rule out the possibility of supertrawlers such as the Veronica plundering Australian waters, and the southern bluefin quota has remained unchanged for over a decade, despite precipitous declines.” Senator Greig says sending patrol boats to the Southern Ocean is, by the Minister's own admission, proving ineffective in ensuring a sustainable take of toothfish. “The Minister suggests CCAMLR has been limited in its effectiveness because its signatories do not include all the toothfish fishing nations,” Senator Greig said. “Despite this, the Australian Government's delegation at last year's meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), whose signatories include many of the fishing nations not party to CCAMLR, left the issue of toothfish in the too-hard basket. “Complaints by Senator Macdonald now will not bring back the opportunity to achieve greater international monitoring and management of toothfish trade through CITES. "This sleight-of-hand by the Minister to distract the public from the politically uncomfortable decisions he refuses to make at home may well cost many coastal fishing communities their futures," Senator Greig said. Media Contact - Di Graham - (08) 9228 3133 or 0417 177 523