An alliance of recreational fishers, conservation groups and tourism businesses has welcomed the acknowledgement from labor and Liberal spokespeople that the super trawler is a critical issue at the upcoming federal election, as indicated by their announcements seeking recreational fisher support. However the Stop The Trawler alliance says both major parties still fall short of community expectations and have not yet won any favour on their super trawler policies.
After speaking at a community forum in Batemans Bay last week Shadow Minister for Forestry, Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Affairs Joel Fitzgibbon stated “Labor remains committed to preventing the operation of all super trawlers in Australian waters, unless a thorough assessment against the most up-to-date science can verify these operations will not undermine small pelagic fisheries and recreational fishing spots.”
Liberal Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston joined the super trawler challenge by releasing a media statement on June 4 confirming they banned super trawlers over 130m in length in April 2015.
“Whilst both major parties are finally recognizing that recreational fisher, environment and community concerns on the super trawler must be addressed, their efforts still fall short of the mark,” said Rebecca Hubbard of Environment Tasmania.
Nobby Clark from Game Fish Tasmania Sports Fishing Club said “Labor’s statement is like re-packaging an old toy and Liberals’ is like a slap in the face. The Geelong Star has sailed through their so-called ban and has been smashing prime fishing spots and protected marine life on the NSW Sapphire Coast for six months.”
“Tasmanian recreational fishers have already suffered the consequences of industrial scale fishing in the SPF, and we don’t want Victorian and NSW fishers to be next in line.”
“We know this foreign company will try to make a quick buck by fishing these valuable small pelagic fish stocks as hard and as fast as possible, leaving recreational fishers to deal with the mess again. It’s good to see Labor and Liberal fighting for recreational fisher’s support on this issue but nothing short of a commitment to a permanent ban on factory freezer trawlers in the Small Pelagic Fishery will be enough to get our votes,” said Mr Clark.
Josh Coates of The Australian Marine Conservation Society said “Any thorough assessment of how Australian communities feel about the operation of the Geelong Star would clearly show that Australians overwhelmingly support getting rid of it, and any others like it, permanently.”
“The next step in the super trawler story is for the Coalition and the Labor Party to recognize that the Australian community, who are the owners of our fishery resources, will not be hoodwinked by political double speak and want nothing less than an immediate ban on all factory freezer trawlers in our valuable pelagic fishery,” concluded Mr Coates.