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Australia welcomes Japanese decision to cease driftnet fishing



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JOINT STATEMENT BY

Senator gabeth Evans, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and S imon Crean, Minister for P rimary Industries and Energy

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DPIE91/302J 28 November 1991

A U ST R A L IA W E L C O M E S JA P A N E S E D E C IS IO N TO C E A SE

D R IF T N E T F IS H IN G

The M inister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Evans, and the Minister for

Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, welcome the announcement by the

Government of Japan to cease driftnet fishing on the high seas by the end o f 1992.

"The announcement, which has emerged from a lengthy debate on driftnet fishing, is a

major step towards a global moratorium on this wasteful and indiscriminate practice,"

the Ministers said.

M r Crean said the Japanese Government, in response to strong international concerns

about the practice, had announced that its driftnet fishing fleet would be cut back by 50

per cent before July 1992 through a reduction in the number of vessels, the length of

their nets and the areas of operation.

Japan will suspend driftnet fishing completely by 31 December 1992.

Senator Evans said in concert with other concerned nations, Australia would press for

the Japanese action to be matched by Korea and Taiwan, the other major driftnet fishing

nations which continued to operate on the high seas.

"Australia is especially concerned about the continued presence of a large fleet of

Taiwanese drifnet vessels fishing in the Indian Ocean," he said.

The Ministers said driftnet fishing could threaten the recovery of the severely depleted

Southern Bluefin Tuna and have serious impacts on other marine resources, including

albacore tuna, marine mammals, turtles and seabirds.

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They said that Australia had played a major role in focussing international attention on

the adverse impacts of driftnet fishing.

"Australia was one of the first countries to prohibit large scale driftnet fishing in waters

under its jurisdiction. We also prohibit port entry or trans-shipment by driftnet vessels

in the Australian fishing zone," they said.

"Through concerted regional action, South Pacific countries succeeded in eliminating

the practice from the region in July this year."

The Convention for the Prohibition of Fishing with Long Driftnets in the South Pacific

came into force in May 1991. Since the United Nations first resolved in 1989 to take

action in relation to driftnet fishing, major scientific reviews had vindicated international

concerns about the impact of the practice on fisheries resources and marine wildlife.

The Ministers said that the Japanese announcement set the scene for agreement on a

resolution at this year's United Nations General Assembly to set clear deadlines for an

end worldwide to driftnet fishing on the high seas.

Information: Keith Scott, Senator Evans' office (06) 277 7500.

Catherine Payne, Mr Crean's office (06) 277 7520.