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Meeting to tackle illegal fishing.

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Last updated: 18 December 2005

Meeting to tackle illegal fishing

DAFF05/251M 18 December 2005

Illegal fishing in Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a key concern in Australia and an ongoing problem.

At a meeting last weekend, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer discussed with Indonesian Foreign Minister His Excellency Doctor Wirajuda the impact illegal fishing is having on fish stocks in the Australian EEZ.

The extent of Indonesian incursions is intolerable and needs to be addressed jointly.

I will be visiting Jakarta today (Sunday December 18) to further the discussions between Mr Downer and Mr Wirajuda when I meet Indonesian Fisheries Minister His Excellency Rear Admiral Freddy Numberi.

Indonesia is Australia's nearest neighbour and a country with which Australia shares an increasingly good relationship.

Australia and Indonesia work together mutually to address issues in the region like terrorism, the tsunami, illegal logging and programmes to aid Indonesian citizens, particularly in some of the less developed areas of Indonesia

Australia and Indonesia also share common maritime boundaries and fish stocks.

Over the years, we have worked cooperatively in relation to fishing in these waters. Many years ago an MOU was entered into to allow Indonesian fishermen fishing in a traditional manner to operate inside an area of Australian waters (known as the MOU Box)

Mr Numberi and I will follow up on the education campaign to raise awareness in Indonesia of the consequences of fishing illegally in Australian waters, and on the agreement to conduct a joint study about the problem of illegal fishing in South East Asia particularly for shark fin.

I will be pursuing with Mr Numberi cooperation surveillance and information sharing to build an understanding of illegal fishing and to form the basis at working together to reduce these incursions.

I hope to also raise a range of other measures including:

● more direct involvement of Indonesia in surveillance and apprehension,

● management of the MOU Box

● extension of the Public Sector Linkages Programme particularly as it

relates to fisheries issues ● management of the Southern Bluefiun Tuna spawning grounds

The problems with illegal fishing can only be addressed by joint action.

At their meeting in Australia in April, President Yudhoyono agreed with Prime Minister Howard that cooperation on illegal fishing was a high priority.

My meeting with the Indonesian Fisheries Minister will build on that commitment.

Whilst in Jakarta, I will also be meeting with the Indonesian Forestry Minister His Excellency Mr Malem Sambat Kaban to discuss illegal logging and the export of timber to Australia.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald’s office: David Crisafulli 0400 144 483