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Australia seeks to ratify agreement to manage and conserve Pacific tuna resources.



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AFFA03/037MJ - 14 March 2003

Federal Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation - Senator Ian Macdonald Minister for Foreign Affairs - Alexander Downer

Australia seeks to ratify agreement to manage and conserve Pacific tuna resources

Australia has begun domestic consultations to enable ratification of the convention aimed at conserving tuna and other highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific Ocean.

The Convention for the Conservation of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is one of the first regional fisheries agreements adopted since the conclusion in 1995 of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement.

It will establish a commission that will provide an effective management and conservation regime for this valuable fishery.

The Convention will cover tuna resources shared by Australia and Pacific island countries. The effective and sustainable utilisation of this fishery will depend on cooperation between the coastal states and fishing nations to manage and conserve this resource. The Convention is the means through which we can achieve this objective.

Operators in Australia's East Coast Tuna and Billfish Fishery, which was worth nearly $60 million in 2000-01, fish for the same tuna stocks targeted by large distant-water fleets throughout the western and central Pacific. The tuna and billfish stocks are also important to Australia's recreational and charter fishing industries.

Since Australia signed the Convention in October 2000, we have been active throughout the preparatory process that is developing arrangements to establish the commission.

Australia feels it's now time to ratify the Convention, which we hope will enter into force within the next 12 months.

The Convention will enter into force when three states north, and seven states south, of the 20o parallel north latitude ratify the agreement or, alternatively, if, after September 2003, it has been ratified by 13 states, regardless of their location.

Further information on the proposed ratification is available on the AFFA fisheries website at www.affa.gov.au.

Further media inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: Kelly Stevens (02) 6277 7270 or 0405 191 732 Mr Downer's office: Chris Kenny (02) 6277 7500 or 0419 206 890