12 Feb 2008

Australia and PNG agree on extension of Torres moratorium

8:40 pm on 12 February 2008

Australia and Papua new Guinea have agreed to extend the moratorium on mining and drilling in the Torres Strait for an indefinite period.

Established in 1985 by the Torres Strait Treaty, the moratorium prohibits mining or drilling of the seabed or the subsoil in the Torres Strait Protected Zone (TSPZ).

The agreement was reached at a meeting between Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and his Papua new Guinea counterpart Sam Abal in Canberra this week.

Initially in place for ten years, the moratorium has previously been extended on three occasions.

Last month, the Australian Government proposed to the Government of Papua New Guinea that it be extended indefinitely, rather than for a fixed term.

The TSPZ was established by the Treaty to protect the traditional way of life and livelihood of the Torres Strait's traditional inhabitants, as well as protect and preserve the marine environment and indigenous fauna and flora.