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Minister warns prawn fishermen

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The Minister for Primary Industry, Mr. Anthony, said

today that he was deeply disturbed by reports that prawn fishermen at feipa (Queensland) were threatening to fire on prawn trawlers from Papua-New Guinea if they appeared in the

Weipa area.

Mr. Anthony said that so long as foreign fishermen

could work legally to the outer edge of Australia's 12-mile fishing zone, the fishermen would have to learn to live with the


He said: "The Government has repeatedly stated that

its policy is to claim for Australian fishermen the maximum of

exclusive rights permitted by international law and, at present,

this means the 12-mile exclusive zone.

"However, the position with respect to trawlers from

Papua--New Guinea is different.

"For the purposes of the Fisheries Act, boats licensed from the Territory are not foreign boats, but have the

same rights as Australian-based boats and during the current year, can fish as close inshore as the outer edge of the 3-mile


"The Government has a special responsibility for the

welfare and development of Papua and New Guinea.

"Nevertheless, steps have been taken to prevent

Territory-licensed trawlers from landing their catches in Australian ports and to prevent prawn factory-ships from the Territory from receiving prawns from trawlers that are not

themselves licensed and based in the Territory.

"In addition, special restrictions have been placed on

boats belonging to joint--venture companies based in the Territory, and the Government has tu.ken c.ction to have joint-venture Thoz.^t's

from the 'Territory withdrawn from the Gulf.."



Mr. Anthony said discussions were in progress between the Departments of Primary Industry and External Territories to seek a regime which would ensure that the fishing industry based in the Territory played a proper role in the development of

fisheries in Territory waters and did not simply use the

Territory as a base from which to exploit the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The discussions were also aimed at developing plans for an appropriate legal and administrative regime which would

in due course be submitted to Cabinet for consideration.

In the meantime, fishermen in the Gulf of Carpentaria

had no option but to learn to live with reasonable competition.

^ir. Anthony said he did not wish to see a situation develop where the Government might be forced to make provision, in addition to existing penalties under criminal law, for

cancellation of the fishing licence of any boat from which acts of violence on the high seas were committed.

"The 1970 prawn season gives every indication of being a satisfactory one and already there are more trawlers in the Teipa area than the existing processing facilities can cope with," he said.

"Most boats are on a catch quota. It is unlikely that

new boats coming to the area will be able to negotiate selling contracts.

"Por this reason, I urge fishermen not to rush to the Gulf to take advantage of the prevailing good season unless they have made firm arrangements to sell their catches and to obtain



2nd April, 1970.