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Australia, Indonesia Sign Fishing Deal


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Australia, Indonesia sign fishing deal

The Australian and Indonesian navies will conduct joint patrols to stop illegal fishers following a landmark meeting in Brisbane.

Australian Fisheries and Conservation Minister, Senator Eric Abetz, and Indonesian Fisheries Minister, Rear Admiral Freddy Numberi, agreed to cooperate in fighting illegal fishing in waters of shared interest such as the Arafura and Timor Seas.

Senator Abetz said the deal would see the Australian and Indonesian navies working in a coordinated manner against illegal fishers.

The agreement builds on the Australia-Indonesia security cooperation treaty, signed by the two countries this week.

The two countries will also work to encourage other countries in the region to take part in similar operations.

Fourteen Asian nations will be invited to a meeting in Jakarta to discuss the issue, with that meeting followed up with a regional ministers meeting in Australia.

"We will work together to broaden this cooperation to the South-East Asian region in early 2007," Senator Abetz said.

"Minister Numberi and I recognise that the consequences of not doing so would be grave for fish stocks in waters between Australia and Indonesia."

The fisheries minister also met with state ministers to discuss the illegal fishing problem.

One of he measures proposed was to use Top End Aborigines to catch foreign fishermen pillaging Australian waters.

The Brisbane meeting also saw the states agree to investigate tougher measures including a review by September, 2008, of sentences for illegal fishers.

Acting NT Fisheries Minister Kon Vatskalis welcomed the idea of involving Aboriginal communities in the illegal fishing fight.

"For more than two years the Territory has been raising concerns about the threats posed by illegal foreign fishers," he said.

"We would still like to see Indigenous Marine Ranger groups play a greater role in the apprehension of illegal fishers and hopefully we'll see this with the expansion of pilot programs to engage Indigenous communities."

The meeting also agreed the number of foreign boats found in Queensland, WA and Northern Territory waters will be monitored to determine how best to coordinate interception efforts.

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