Wilderness Society Marine Campaigner Jenita Enevoldsen received evasive responses from both Environment Minister Tony Burke and Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig at Perth's meeting of Community Cabinet last night.
Jenita asked about the potential impacts which the supertrawler might have on a local population of penguins. The colony, on nearby Penguin Island, has suffered a four-fold increase in deaths over the last breeding season due to the lack of baitfish in the area with which to feed their young. Specifically, she asked the Minister's how, with the planned national marine parks not yet in effect, they could ensure that the 18,000 tons of quota that the super trawler is requesting, would not further devastate local populations of the threatened penguin species?
Minister Joe Ludwig effectively sidestepped the issue of impacts on penguin populations altogether, providing a cue-card response about his confidence in the so-called "sustainability" of AFMA's quota allocations which he seemingly continues to stand by in an act of blind faith - apparently ignorant of past failures to manage other fisheries such as Abalone, Southern Rock Lobster, Scallops or Orange Roughy (all have which have suffered collapse or significant declines) "sustainably".
Meanwhile Environment Minister Tony Burke appeared enchanted by Ludwigs side-stepping of the issue and joined him a perfect politcal two-step, suggesting he had done "all he can" under the current laws - to ensure that threatened species aren't directly affected by this super trawler - despite the fact that penguins failed to rate a mention in his recently released bycatch protection conditions. He then gave a typically toothless politician's response suggesting that his department is currently "looking at reviewing" the law of the EPBC act, before referring to the glimmer of hope presented by Melissa Parke's private members bill to stop the super trawler from being allowed to fish in Australian waters which is due to be tabled in federal parliament on Monday 10 september."
Overall, a disappointing response which offers little hope for the little penguins but provides plenty of reason to pick up the phone and call on your local ministers to support Melissa Parke's private members bill on Monday.
Keep up the great work people, together we can Stop The Super Trawler!