Jack mackerel school of fish

South Pacific Fisheries to be protected

2005-03-13 > Press release - Senator Ian Macdonald; Hon David Benson-Pope

New Zealand and Australia have agreed to commence discussions on the concept of establishing a new regional organisation to safeguard the future of South Pacific fisheries.

The New Zealand Fisheries Minister, Mr David Benson-Pope, and the Australian Fisheries Minister, Senator Ian Macdonald, discussed the need for a new regional fisheries management organisation when they met at the High Seas Task Force meeting in Paris and the FAO Fisheries Ministerial meeting in Rome this week.

The Ministers discussed the need to establish a South Pacific fisheries authority to deal with commercial fish species other than tuna in the Pacific.

"International cooperative efforts to manage tuna fisheries are already under way, but other important high seas fisheries, such as orange roughy, also need attention," Minister David Benson-Pope said.

"This is an opportunity to improve the management of South Pacific fisheries before they become as seriously depleted as many northern hemisphere fisheries. Rather than waiting for a crisis before we act, South Pacific nations can take the initiative now to ensure we have a sound management framework for the future."

"Responsible fishing nations such as Australia and New Zealand must take the lead and work with other fishing nations and the fishing industry to establish a framework where the industry can develop with confidence and that the fish stocks will be well managed," Senator Ian Macdonald said.

Preliminary trans-Tasman discussions are due to be followed up in a meeting later this year for all interested parties, including both states and non-governmental organisations.

New Zealand and Australia are already involved with regional fisheries management organisations managing Antarctic waters, the western and central Pacific, and Southern Bluefin Tuna.

"These organisations offer a way to improve management of marine resources and make progress against illegal fishing on the high seas," Senator Macdonald said.