Fisheries Minister Jon Ford wants immediate action from Prime Minister John Howard against illegal foreign fishing vessels, which are putting Australian fish stocks at serious risk.
Mr Ford today announced the development of a joint strategy between the Western Australian and Northern Territory Governments to tackle head-on illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters.
“The Federal Government has focussed on keeping illegal immigrants out of Australia, which has dragged resources from the equally important task of protecting the nation’s fish stocks and marine habitats,” the Minister said.
“There has been a rapid and sustained escalation in illegal activity in Australian waters during the past 12 months.
“The Federal Government has failed in its responsibility to protect Australia from illegal foreign fishing vessels which violate our borders and plunder the natural resources of our sovereign waters.”
Mr Ford said WA and the Northern Territory had joined forces because of frustration over the lack of a co-ordinated Federal Government plan to prevent illegal fishing.
The Minister said Senator MacDonald’s assertions that he had the issue in hand, when fish stocks were being plundered every day, was the height of arrogance and incompetence.
“Australian fishermen and traditional communities along the northern coastline, who depend on the sustainability of our fisheries, have had enough,” he said.
The strategy, which will be signed by the new Premier and the NT Chief Minister and presented to the Federal Government, demands a more focussed and co-ordinated approach to deal with this problem.
“WA and the NT have developed a strategy paper that clearly identifies a plan to combat illegal activity and target specific areas through intelligence driven compliance operations,” Mr Ford said.
“The Prime Minister must urgently provide more dedicated fisheries patrols, and more illegal fishing boats need to be apprehended, confiscated, and destroyed.
“The State Government is committed to protecting WA’s unique lifestyle and environment.”
Minister's office: 9213 7200