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Wednesday, 20 February 1980
Page: 101

Mr SHORT (BALLARAT, VICTORIA) -Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the concern which has been expressed by many persons who observed the presence of considerable numbers of squid fishing vessels off the Victorian coast in recent weeks? Could the Minister inform the House as to the ownership of those vessels; how many vessels are involved; and the nature of their operations, including how close to shore they are permitted to operate? Could he also advise the House of the steps the Government is taking to monitor the operation of these fishing vessels in Victorian waters?

Mr NIXON -The first point I should make is that all foreign vessels in the squid operations fishing in Australian waters are not permitted to fish inside the three-mile limit. Australian fishing vessels that may be part of a joint feasibility study in these operations or which are operating independently can, of course, fish inside the three-mile limit. Therefore, any boats that the honourable member has had drawn to his attention should be Australian fishing boats and not foreign boats. Nine joint feasibility studies have been approved, eight involving Australian and Japanese partners and one involving Australian and Taiwanese partners. I can make the details available to the honourable member. They are already in Hansard, if he cares to look, on 22 November 1979.

Regular surveillance is conducted of foreign fishing activities. Reports come to me about any misdemeanours on the part of the fishing boats taking part and corrective action has been taken when misdemeanours have been reported. Similarly, all vessels are required to report their position every two days, catch reports are required every six days and we have the right to place Australian observers on board the boats, and do so. The feasibility studies are for the 1979-80 season. These fishing operations will conclude in October 1980. 1 should make the point that I had a similar experience one day during the Christmas break when I was out at sea fishing. I was surrounded by about 20 boats. I found that they were not undertaking squid operations. They were fishing within the three-mile limit. I made a call on one of them and I found that they were in fact scallop fishermen.

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