11 July, 2014
The Coalition has renewed commitment to combat illegal fishing and support sustainable fisheries management in the Pacific.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister to Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, became the first Australian Government executive member to visit Tokelau, in the South Pacific, when he attended the Tenth Annual Session of Pacific Fisheries Ministers last week.
During the visit Senator Colbeck committed Australia to take the lead on the development of a draft conservation and management measure (CMM) on tuna harvest strategies.
"Australia recognises the importance of sustainable fisheries across the Pacific. The development of a harvest strategy approach for key tuna species will lead to greater management of these valuable resources," Senator Colbeck said.
"Australia's fisheries are among the most sustainable and best managed in the world. To get to this situation we've made some hard decisions to put in place management measures that ensure sustainability."
"We have the opportunity to share this experience and knowledge with our regional partners as we continue to work together to ensure the sustainability of the Pacific Fisheries that play such an important role in the economies of many Pacific Island states."
Another key outcome of the meeting is a focus on reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, demonstrated by Australia's signing of the Agreement on Strengthening Implementation of the Niue Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement in the South Pacific Region (NTSA).
Australia also announced a $2 billion Pacific Patrol Boat program to replace the fleet of boats gifted to Pacific Island countries from 1987 to 1997.
"This program reflects Australia's ongoing commitment to work with regional partners to broaden and strengthen the region's capacity to respond to maritime security, fisheries protection and transnational criminal threats," Senator Colbeck said.
Senator Colbeck said the Tenth Annual Session of Pacific Fisheries Ministers was a great opportunity for fisheries ministers to work together to ensure the long-term sustainability of an important and valuable resource.