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Tuesday, 2 May 1989
Page: 1566

Senator GARETH EVANS —Mr President, I have some further information in response to a question asked of me by Senator Bishop on 7 April about Australian and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fisheries. I seek leave to incorporate that material in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows-

I now have additional information on the question asked by Senator Bishop on Friday 7 April concerning the number of Soviet personnel who might visit Australian ports if a fisheries cooperation agreement were concluded with the USSR.

I am informed that the crew complement of Soviet fishing vessels ranges between 90 to 120 depending on the size of the vessel. In the early stages of negotiations the USSR proposed port visits by 50 vessels twice a year. (suggesting an approximate figure of 9-12,000)

However, the number and duration of port calls by the Soviet fishing fleet would be determined primarily by commercial factors such as the competitiveness of Australian ports for repair work; and the availability at any given time of the facilities required.

Until such time as, firstly, the Government to Government agreement is finalised and secondly, commercial arrangements are agreed between Australian companies and the Soviet fleets-and that is clearly some time off-it is impossible to provide an accurate estimate of the kind sought by Senator Bishop.

The question of security arrangements which might apply to the crews of Soviet fishing vessels involves intelligence and security matters and on that basis I do not propose to comment, other than to repeat that Australia's security interests are taken fully into account in all of the Government's dealings with the USSR, including the consideration of a fisheries agreement.