Media Release - 25 July
Claims by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) that researchers at a FRDC funded workshop in South Australia “concluded that Australian fisheries science and management were on par with the rest of the world” are unfounded...
“There are rumours that another super trawler is being brought in to Australian waters by the end of the year, despite critical gaps in the research which received scant attention at the workshop. In this context it would seem that a Government funded workshop is being used to pave the way for more super trawlers..."
Alistair Graham, who attended and presented at the conference, has a very different view. “The workshop did not arrive at this conclusion at all. International researchers were in no position to agree with the proposition put by local organisers that Australian fisheries management was on par with the rest of the world because the workshop made no formal resolutions at all. The workshop seemed to be set up by FRDC with the deliberate aim of engineering a veneer of international credibility for the small pelagic fishery as part of efforts to smooth the way for another attempt to introduce a super trawler like the Margiris”.
“This was clearly not a stakeholder forum. Major stakeholders from the conservation and recreational fishing sectors were obviously not represented and this was explicitly made clear to the organisers.
“How many taxpayers dollars have been spent on this highly politicised event, and why is so much effort being put into what seems to be an attempt to generate appearances of support for the management of the deeply flawed small pelagic fishery?” asked Mr Graham.
Graham Pike, a recreational fisher who also presented at the conference, agreed. At the workshop he said: “Key recreational fishing organisations in Australia have asked me to make the point at the outset that this so-called ‘workshop’ cannot and should not be regarded as a ‘stakeholder’ workshop. The late notice – only about two weeks – meant that recreational fishing sector organisations and members could not re-organise their schedules and commitments to enable them to participate this week’s technical forum and in today’s activities. An otherwise important opportunity for numbers of the recreational fishing sector, a multi-billion dollar industry, to interact with local and international scientists and fisheries managers specialising in small pelagic fishes and to continue to contribute meaningfully to the present and future management of these species in Australia, has been lost, squandered”.
Rebecca Hubbard, from the Stop the Trawler Alliance commented. “No members of the Stop the Trawler Alliance participated as stakeholders in this workshop. It was clearly designed by scientists for scientists and stakeholder engagement was just a last-minute veneer”.
“There are rumours that another super trawler is being brought in to Australian waters by the end of the year, despite critical gaps in the research which received scant attention at the workshop. In this context it would seem that a Government funded workshop is being used to pave the way for more super trawlers, despite ongoing concerns about the low-value, under-resourced Small Pelagic Fishery and very broad public opposition to these environmentally destructive vessels.
“Prime Minister Abbott said that the super trawler Margiris will stay banned but we all know that there is an international fleet of these destructive freezer factory trawlers waiting to enter Australian waters. With just 109 days left of the current two-year ban, the Australian Government must honour its promise to the Australian people and legislate a permanent ban on super trawlers to protect our fisheries, marine life and fishing future”, concluded Ms Hubbard.
The FRDC Media Release is available