Australia and France have agreed to sign a treaty to fight illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean, the waters encircling the continent of Antarctica.
Australian Fisheries Minister Peter McGauran and his French counterpart Dominique Bussereau agreed to formalize existing arrangements where joint patrols are carried out in French and Australian waters near Antarctica.
McGauran said the treaty would allow a French vessel to apprehend an illegal fishing boat caught in Australian waters, and vice versa.
'Australia will now move to sign the treaty as quickly as possible,' he said in a statement.
'Our combined efforts on the water are proving a very powerful deterrent to (illegal) fishing.'
Australia has waged an intensive campaign against illegal fishing of its southern waters, notably for the Patagonian Toothfish -- a prized delicacy marketed in the US as Chilean sea bass but known under a variety of names including mero or black hake.