13 July 2010
A landmark meeting of Pacific Island Fisheries and Law Enforcement Ministers, hosted by the Gillard Government, concluded today with positive outcomes achieved to protect regional fish stocks, underpinned by regional cooperation of law enforcement and fisheries management agencies.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke and Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor attended the meeting in Canberra today and yesterday.
The meeting focused on ongoing management challenges faced by Pacific Island countries, especially the overfishing of tuna stocks.
“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing poses a serious threat to the sustainability of the region’s fisheries,” Mr Burke said.
“A coordinated approach will help us tackle the problem of illegal fishing more effectively and the meeting today and yesterday has given us a great start.”
Ministers noted that fisheries resources, principally tuna, constitute a critical segment of many Pacific Island economies where in some countries fisheries contribute up to 10 per cent of gross domestic product.
Ministers also discussed directions for Pacific maritime security. This discussion was supported by a workshop of maritime security experts held in parallel with the ministerial meeting.
Mr O’Connor said “The meeting recognised the need for a collaborative approach to managing maritime threats in the Pacific, including illegal fishing.”
“We are looking forward to working with our Pacific partners to develop a Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement and addressing Pacific maritime security beyond the life of the Pacific Patrol Boats.”Minister Burke announced $2.4 million over the next three years to support the negotiation of the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement. Formal negotiations on the Agreement are expected to begin after the leaders’ meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Vila on 4 to 6 August 2010.