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Vaile announces buyout for TI Prawn licenses.

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V2005/01 - Vaile announces buyout for TI Prawn licenses

Joint Media Release The Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Trade Mark Vaile 27 July 2005 Australian Government Commits to Torres Strait Prawn Fishery The Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, the Hon Mark Vaile MP, announced today a new approach to the management of Papua New Guinea's entitlements to the Torres Strait Prawn fishery under the Torres Strait Treaty.

Mr Vaile said, "the Australian Government will offer to purchase from Australian commercial operators fishing entitlements equivalent to PNG's share of the prawn fishery."

The Government will purchase entitlements to formally account for PNG using its treaty entitlements in the fishery. This equates to one quarter of the total sustainable fishing allocation in the fishery.

This will be done through an open tender process. If for whatever reason PNG chooses not to access its entitlement, this entitlement could, with PNG's agreement, be leased to Australian operators at market rates.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Alexander Downer MP, said "this approach will allow Australia to meet its obligations to PNG while ensuring that catches can be controlled within sustainable limits in accordance with the terms of the Torres Strait Treaty".

The Torres Strait fisheries are unique. They are the only fisheries jointly managed by Australia and a neighbouring country through a Treaty arrangement. Under that Treaty PNG is entitled to a quarter of the prawn catch in recognition of the shared responsibilities and interests in the Torres Strait. The Torres Strait Treaty between Australia and PNG entered into force on 15 February 1985.

The Australian Government will consider whether further action is required in other Torres Strait fisheries to account for PNG using its treaty entitlements.

"We will be discussing the details of this arrangement with PNG immediately and stressing to them that the current proposal is designed solely to assist Australia in managing the prawn fishery in accordance with the Torres Strait Treaty's provisions, and does not affect PNG's Treaty rights in any way", Mr Downer said.

There will be conditions attached to the acquisition of entitlements in the fishery. The Australian fishery will need to adopt modern management arrangements including the use of tradeable access units where fishing access is a proportion of the sustainable available resource.

Contacts: Richard Forbes (Mr Vaile) 0418 273 475

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