Media Release – Australian Toothfish Industry (2003)

27 November 2003


Legal toothfish companies in Australia have welcomed Australian and French government initiatives announced this week in the ongoing battle against criminal syndicates targeting and stealing the valuable species in the Australian and French zones.

This week Australia signed a new maritime treaty with the French setting a framework for cooperative surveillance and research activity in their respective territorial seas and exclusive economic zones in the Southern Ocean.

The Federal Fisheries Minister, Ian Macdonald, also announced government plans for new laws which will see an increase in maximum fines for those caught fishing illegally plus the ability to recover and include in any bond amount, the cost of pursuit and apprehension of foreign fishing vessels.

“We are delighted that Australia has taken these steps in its ongoing battle to protect this remote and vulnerable Australian territory,” said Mr. David Carter, chief executive of Austral Fisheries, one of the four Australian companies licensed to fish in Australian waters some 4000 kilometres south-west of Albany, Western Australia.

“Australia and France share a long sea border with their adjacent Kerguelen and Heard Island territories. These oceans are the jewel in the crown for toothfish pirates, and any moves that allow us to forge closer links to stop the criminals before they put us all out of business, decimate toothfish stocks and kill thousands more endangered seabirds, is to be applauded.”

Fellow Australian operator David Williams said he hoped the signing of the treaty and the new laws would send a powerful message to the environmental vandals who continue to plunder Australian fisheries, and destroy the unique Antarctic environment.

“The legal toothfish industry is committed to sustainable fisheries management practices and preservation of the unique marine environment for future generations. So any tools which can be adopted to protect our fisheries and sovereignty are very welcome, and the Government is to be congratulated on its proactive approach to this significant problem” Mr. Williams said.

Media Contacts
Jenny Hodder: +618 92020 2457 (mobile) 0412 005 400
David Williams: Managing Director HIMI Longline Management 0405 169 308
Les Scott: Petuna Fisheries +613 6427 9033
Christian Pyke: Raptis +617 3249 7888 (m) 0411 595 920

27 November 2003