Australian government signs two international treaties to manage, conserve fish stocks in previously unregulated areas of south Pacific, southern Indian Oceans

CANBERRA, Australia , April 2, 2012 (press release) – The Gillard Government continues to demonstrate its international leadership on sustainable fisheries management by ratifying two international treaties to manage and conserve fish stocks in vast high seas areas of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The government simultaneously ratified, in Rome and Wellington, the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement and the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean respectively.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, today said that the Australian ratification of these treaties made sense, given the strong management of domestic fisheries.

“Here at home, we have some of the best managed fisheries in the world,” Minister Ludwig said.

“These treaties will close a governance gap in important high seas fisheries that neighbour Australia’s domestic fisheries and they will ensure that fishing for those stocks will be subject to international regulation.

“By being a party to these treaties, Australia has the opportunity to shape the management of these resources and secure participatory rights for the Australian fishing industry.

“If we’re using the resources, we should have a say in their management.”

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the ratification showed Australia’s commitment to responsibly managing the valuable resource of the oceans.

“Fishery resources are critical to many countries in our region, especially in the Pacific, as a source of income and food security. These treaties represent an important step forward in their better management,” Senator Carr said.

The treaties will manage and conserve deep sea and non-highly migratory fishery resources in previously unregulated areas of the south Pacific and southern Indian Oceans. Fishery resources covered by the treaties include commercially valuable deep-water species such as orange roughy and alfonsino, which the Australian industry has been fishing for well over a decade.

In the Pacific Ocean, Australia, Chile and New Zealand co-sponsored the negotiations to establish the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean. The treaty establishes the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation.

The ratification of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement allows Australia to begin work with the Cook Islands, the European Union, Mauritius and the Seychelles to establish binding measures to manage the fishery resources in the high seas of the southern Indian Ocean.

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