Super Trawler desperately seeking fish

Media Release - 23 January 2013

Environment and fishing groups are united in their opposition to the increasingly desperate attempts by Seafish to take the super trawler FV Able Tasman (formerly Margiris) fishing in Australian waters, despite massive community opposition and a ban.

Super Trawlers are banned from fishing in the small pelagic fishery for two years while an expert panel reviews their impact.

Seafish Tasmania has proposed to allow the Abel Tasman to operate as a ‘mothership’ while smaller vessels transfer mackerel and redbait to her for processing, an act that in itself constitutes ‘fishing’ under the legislation and which therefore is banned for two years under Minister Burke’s ruling while an expert panel reviews the impact of super trawlers.

“This proposal seems to be a cynical attempt to get around the Government's two year super trawler ban. It is incredible that an agency such as AFMA would develop a proposal that would ignore Minister Burke's concerns about the small pelagic fishery and which is clearly aimed at undermining an important Government decision to keep super trawlers such as the Abel Tasman out of Australian waters,” said Jon Bryan, Marine Campaigner with Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

“This new proposal to allow smaller vessels to catch fish for transfer to the super trawler still places the small pelagic fish under threat, it still places critically endangered blue fin under greater threat from loss of their food source, and it still threatens the death of seals and dolphins through bycatch with the increased fishing activity,” said Jeff Hansen, Director of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Australia.

“With more boats in the water trawling and loading onto the super trawler, this proposal could have an even bigger impact on the Small Pelagic Fishery and the tuna and dolphins that rely on them for food. It accentuates our concerns about localised depletion and sustainable stock assessments, as opposed to alleviating them,” said Nobby Clark, President of the Tuna Club of Tasmania.

“This is a desperate attempt by Seafish to keep the super trawler fishing in Australia, despite widespread community opposition and commonwealth legislation banning it for 2 years” said Rebecca Hubbard, Marine Coordinator of Environment Tasmania. “We will continue to oppose a super trawler in the Small Pelagic Fishery in any form until the outstanding issues of localised depletion, stock assessments, marine mammal interactions and subsidies have been dealt with.”

View the environment groups joint submission to the Transhipment proposal here.

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