The Australian Greens spokesperson for Fisheries, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, says that New Zealand’s efforts in recent days to use its Navy to round up illegal toothfish poachers in the Southern Ocean shows how pitiful the Australian government’s efforts have been.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “We have had the Sea Shepherd pursuing the illegal vessel MV Thunder from Australia’s area of interest in the Southern Ocean and pulling out their deadly nets.
“And the New Zealand government has deployed its Navy deep into the Southern Ocean to pursue two pirate vessels.
“Yet the Australian government is frozen with inaction as these illegal activities are carried out under their nose.
“The Liberals had promised to send the ACV Ocean Protector, our $150 million dollar, purpose built, Southern Ocean patrol boat, to protect our fisheries. It was part of the Coalition’s fisheries election policy document.
“Instead they sent it to work off Christmas Island to be the world’s most expensive tropical water taxi. Now it is being decommissioned and ADV Ocean Shield has replaced it.
“Then under pressure from the Senate Southern Ocean Inquiry, Customs promised again that they will conduct two 40-day patrols of the Southern Ocean this summer but there is no vessel on the horizon.
“Two summers and two broken promises.
“Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing in the Southern Ocean is a major issue. Not only does it impact on fisheries, but it finances organised crime gangs.
“We used to be serious about patrolling the Southern Ocean. In 2003, an Australian patrol vessel, the Southern Patrol pursued Patagonian toothfish raiders for 7,500 kilometres almost all the way to South Africa. We used to send our Navy to conduct patrols to scare away the pirates.
“The Government must meet its election commitment and act by sending the Ocean Shield south. Otherwise it is allowing organised crime gangs to operate with impunity,” he concluded.