Saving Pacific fish stocks and ecosystems
FRI 31 AUGUST 2012
Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs
Pacific communities will receive support to manage and conserve their valuable fish stocks and marine ecosystems.
The Gillard Government will support strengthened regional efforts to ensure valuable tuna stocks are not over-fished by foreign fishing fleets.
The Government will also help protect environmentally threatened inshore fisheries which are a vital source of food for millions of Pacific islanders.
Australia’s $25 million commitment to the Pacific Oceanscape Framework was announced at the Rio+20 Conference.
Further details about Australia’s commitment to the Pacific Oceanscape Framework were outlined at the Pacific Islands Forum today, including:
• $9.1 million in support for the Forum Fisheries Agency to strengthen oceanic fisheries cooperation, development and surveillance;
• $7 million to help Pacific islands countries define maritime boundaries, improve surveillance and enhance fisheries management and training;
• $6 million to support community-based efforts to manage fisheries and coastal resources; and
• $2.9 million to strengthen national fisheries policies and institutions.
The Pacific has the largest and best managed tuna stocks in the world. The region contributes almost half of the world’s annual tuna catch.
However, the long-term sustainability of the industry is under threat of potential overfishing by foreign fishing vessels.
The Government will provide guaranteed core funding to support the Forum Fisheries Agency to strengthen regional cooperation on oceanic fisheries and to improve surveillance and reporting. Funds will be earmarked to help combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Australia will also assist Pacific nations to ensure food security for their people, noting that fish is a vital source of protein for Pacific populations.
Experts have recently assessed that climate change and other environmental factors will damage coral reefs and associated marine environments, including through sea temperature rises and acidification.
Productivity of currently harvested species may fall significantly. Australia will provide funding to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research to support community based efforts to manage these processes better.
Australia will also provide Pacific countries with support to ensure their maritime boundaries are fully defined and internationally recognised, so they are better able to exert full control over their marine jurisdictions.