Nine dolphins have already died as a result of the Coalition Government allowing the operation of the European freezer factory trawler, the Geelong Star, in Australian waters. As dolphins are more likely to be killed at night, a ban on night trawling was imposed in an attempt to stop more deaths and allay public concerns. Unbelievably, the Abbot Government and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority are considering lifting the night-fishing ban, which will undoubtedly result in more dolphin deaths.
"The Geelong Star operators have been crying poor because they can't find enough fish to catch during the day. Now it looks like the Abbot Government might let them operate at night. This is going to kill more dolphins", said Rebecca Hubbard from Environment Tasmania. "If the Abbott Govt permits a return to night fishing they are approving the killing of dolphins, which is clearly unacceptable to the Australian public."
"The exclusion devices on the trawl nets that are supposed to protect seals and dolphins have not been properly tested, and the lack of monitoring will mean that large numbers of dolphins and seals may be killed and we won't even know about it", said Jon Bryan From the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.
"The public have made it abundantly clear they are not willing to accept dolphin deaths as a normal part of fishing activity,” said Tooni Mahto from the Australian Marine Conservation Society. “The Governments consideration of backtracking on efforts to protect dolphins in the interests of opening up fishing operations defies logic, and will be a deeply unpopular move in the community”.
Night trawling is another way to keep the Geelong Star out of the public's view. Recreational fishers around the country are already concerned about the secrecy that surrounds the operations of this super trawler. "We don't know where they're going, what they're catching and how that is impacting on local fishing. This needs to stop", said Nobby Clark from the Game Fish Tasmania Sports Fishing Club.
The Australian operator of the Geelong Star has just pleaded guilty in the Hobart Magistrates Court to a series of environmental pollution charges. "Seafish has ignored environmental laws before, and now the Government is considering putting their interests ahead of our protected dolphins and seals,” said Ms Hubbard.
"Over 100,000 people have petitioned the Abbott Government to stop the Geelong Star fishing, and over 15,000 people have contacted their Federal Politicians to support the Small Pelagic Fishery Pledge to ban all freezer factory trawlers in this fishery. When is the Abbott Government going to start listening and protect our marine environment and important recreational fisheries?" concluded Ms Hubbard.