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Thursday, 17 April 1980
Page: 1546

Senator WRIEDT (TASMANIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Special Trade Representations, and I ask: Is the Government aware of any negotiations currently under way between the New Zealand Government and Soviet authorities for the establishment of a joint fishing venture based in New Zealand? If such negotiations are under way, is the venture for the purpose of replacing the joint fishing venture that was proposed for Tasmania but suspended earlier this year?

Senator SCOTT (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Resources) - I do have some information that is relevant to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition. I am aware that the New Zealand Prime Minister announced that, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, his Government would decline to approve an expansion of Soviet activity within the New Zealand 200-mile zone. The joint fishing venture between Soviet and New Zealand interests commenced in late 1 979. Whilst the New Zealand Government has not cancelled approval for these projects, it has reduced the allocation for Soviet vessels under government to government arrangements from 65,000 tonnes to 32,500 tonnes.Other steps the New Zealand Government has taken to show its disapproval of the Soviet action have been to confine Soviet licensed fishing operations to the southernmost and more difficult waters to fish, and to cancel a 12-months research project after only four months work. No doubt these steps are regarded by the New Zealand Government as effective objections to Russian action in Afghanistan.

So far as the Tasmania-Russia venture is concerned, as I understand it, there has been an undertaking that New Zealand will not seek to move in and take the place of the Tasmanian involvement. I understand that other countries are likely to be interested in taking the place, as it were, of the Russian involvement in the fishing industry in Tasmania and elsewhere. In summary, as I understand it, there is no evidence at this stage that New Zealand is seeking to or in fact is moving in to take the place of Tasmania or of any country in joint fishing ventures in that part of the world.

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