Members of recreational fishing and conservation groups met today in Hobart to show that they will not back down from their request to the Federal Government to stop the latest factory freezer trawler Dirk Dirk (aka Geelong Star) from fishing in Australia's Small Pelagic Fishery. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is running a stakeholder consultation forum in an attempt to allay concerns about the introduction of super trawlers into this fishery.
"This new factory freezer trawler demonstrates the failure of Senator Colbeck's claim that his ban on vessels longer than 130 m would protect Australia's marine environment and recreational fisheries. With a length of 95 m, the Dirk Dirk is still a huge vessel and will be able to use nets similar to the last super trawler, Margiris, that was prevented from fishing by the previous Labor Government in 2012", says Stop the Trawler coordinator Rebecca Hubbard.
"Nothing has really changed since the last boat was refused permission to fish" says Jon Bryan from the Tasmanian Conservation Trust. "We still don't know enough about fish movements and there are no new strategies that would prevent localised depletion".
"Secrecy surrounds this fishery. Under the current Government Policy we will not know what is being caught, where it is being caught or how much is being caught. There will be no ongoing monitoring of fishing operations by observers and fishing operations will be hidden from public scrutiny. We won't know if there are any problems because the Government won't tell us about them,” said Tyson Clements of Game Fish Tasmania Sports Fishing Club.
“We continue to tell this government that large scale industrial fishing in the Small Pelagic Fishery is not the highest value best use of the fishery. Protecting the fish stock so Australia’s multibillion dollar recreational fishery can continue to grow and provide economic and social worth to Australian small business and recreational fishing families is. AFMA seems unable or unwilling to recognise and protect the value of this fishery to recreational fishers,” said John Edwards, President of the Tuna Club of Tasmania.
“We still hold very deep concerns about the impacts of a freezer factory trawler on seabirds, dolphins and fur seals, as there have been no significant advances in science or management strategies that would protect these threatened species,” said Tooni Mahto of Australian Marine Conservation Society.
"Most recreational fishers and conservation groups share the concerns of the wider Australian community and don't want the Dirk Dirk or other huge freezer factory trawlers operating in Australia,” concluded Rebecca Hubbard.