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Tuesday, 24 February 1987
Page: 493

Senator WATSON —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Will the Minister justify the imposition of a large 20,000-tonne quota on the orange roughy fishery and, having in mind the overcapitalisation of this little understood species, could he detail upon what scientific data he has based this quota figure?

Senator WALSH —I wish the Tasmanian non-Labor senators could get their act together on this question. It was only last week that I, as the representative of the Government on this issue, was being berated by Senator Sanders for allowing the ruthless, uncontrolled exploitation of this valuable Tasmanian natural resource in such a way as would destroy a valuable Tasmanian industry. Now apparently Senator Watson is objecting to the--

Senator Chaney —He is agreeing. He is saying it is too big.

Senator WALSH —I am sorry, I misunderstood. I thought he said that it was too small and that there should not be a quota. Last week I gave the essential details of this to Senator Sanders, that a limitation-contrary to what Senator Sanders said-has been applied to this. There is little hard evidence available about this species and the situation is under continuous monitoring.

Senator Watson —Why 20,000 tonnes?

Senator WALSH —Why not 30,000? It is a judgment that has been made necessarily--

Senator Watson —It was plucked out of the air.

Senator WALSH —Perhaps Senator Watson wants to ban orange roughy fishing until all the technical and other information is available. Short of doing that, a judgment has to be made about an interim figure that will be allowed until more information is available.