More than science needed

Media Release - 2 May 2014

Following a stakeholder consultation meeting with the Expert Panel in Hobart today, environment groups from Stop the Trawler Alliance say the Inquiry into the impacts of a super trawler in Australia’s Small Pelagic Fishery are likely to be inadequate because the narrow terms of reference do not permit the full range of social and economic impacts to be considered, and essential fisheries data is not available.

“The Independent Panel charged with assessing the impacts of a super trawler are not allowed to consider the social or economic impacts of these large freezer factory trawlers. Yet there has been unprecedented and overwhelming opposition to super trawlers and the threats they pose to our unique marine life, fisheries and local industries,” said Rebecca Hubbard of Environment Tasmania, and Coordinator of the Stop the Trawler Alliance.

“Scientific information on fish movements and recovery times from industrial fishing is lacking. Fish stock assessments are old and further research would be needed before the risk of overfishing and localised depletion can be properly addressed, and there does not appear to be enough time to do this research in the time made available by the Government. The inquiry also focuses on the impacts of super trawlers greater than 130m in length when much smaller freezer trawlers also have the potential to do great harm,” said Jon Bryan of Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

“Super trawlers are a key part of the world’s ongoing overfishing problems and regularly breach the law. Yet their role in the global destruction of our oceans and matters of corporate irresponsibility are not being considered in the review. Such a limited scope means that the Inquiry is inevitably inadequate in terms of advising the Government on a policy response to super trawlers,” said Ms Hubbard. ­

“We need significantly more research into the Small Pelagic Fishery to ensure its sustainability into the future, and a permanent legislated ban on super trawler operations from all Australian waters immediately.

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