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CANBERRA, Australia (December 9, 1998 - Agence France-Presse) - Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer will use a South Pacific visit to urge island leaders to stand firm against international pressure and demand satellite monitoring of foreign fishing vessels.

Downer begins flights Thursday to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Fiji.

Australia wants satellite-monitoring equipment a licensing condition for foreign fishing vessels. But the proposed system could collapse without support of the island nations, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Wednesday.

During the nine-day visit, Downer will urge members of the Forum Fisheries Agency, which includes Australia and New Zealand, to abide by their recent agreement on a vessel monitoring system.

Elements among the fishing fleets of China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan were against installing monitoring equipment in all vessels.

"There has been quite serious pressure from some of the distant water fishing nations against that proposal," the source said.

"They don't want to be monitored and, in some cases, they have used the threat that they will withdraw from the zone of a particular country or they have demanded that the cost of installing the equipment be deducted from the licenses they paid."

Michael J Field Agence France-Presse Auckland, New Zealand TEL: (64 21) 688-438 FAX: (64 21) 694-035 E-Mail: WWW:

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