Let's Do The Time Warp Again: Senator Colbeck Is Repeating Labor Mistake

Media Release - 19 February 2015

It's astounding. The similarities are amazing. A huge freezer factory trawler is once again being encouraged to come all the way from Europe to fish in the Australian small pelagic fishery, despite ongoing public opposition to the industrialisation of our fisheries and the threats this poses to our protected marine life.

Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, seems intent on repeating the mistakes made by Senator Joe Ludwig. As the Labor Government's Minister for Agriculture, Senator Ludwig supported the introduction of the super trawler FV Margiris into Australia in 2012. The Margiris was renamed the Abel Tasman after being approved to operate here. Concerns about impacts on the marine environment and recreational fisheries led to strong public opposition which eventually prevented the FV Margiris from fishing in Australian waters. Another large Dutch-owned freezer factory trawler, the FV Dirk Dirk, is now being proposed to fish in Australian waters with the support of Senator Colbeck, and has recently been approved by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and renamed the Geelong Star, in a repeat move of the Margiris.


 “Senator Colbeck’s proposed 130m super trawler ban was obviously a Trojan horse for shorter but potentially equally devastating large freezer factory trawlers. Senator Colbeck continues to ignore a broad cross-section of the Australian community who do not want to see this kind of industrialisation of our fisheries and increased threats to our protected marine life,” said Rebecca Hubbard from Environment Tasmania.


“Introducing a larger vessel than has ever fished in the Small Pelagic Fishery is a sure-fire way of increasing the number of seals and dolphins killed around southern Australia,” said Jon Bryan of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust. “At the moment, we’re not confident that management measures will be successful in ensuring fishing activity is not depleting populations of some of Australia’s iconic marine species.”


"There have been no significant advances in science or management structures associated with this fishery since the super trawler Margiris. Our concerns about out of date stock assessments remain and no more understanding of fish movements and resident stock populations. AFMA has still not developed a solution to the problem of localised depletion and fishing operations will remain hidden from public scrutiny under the laws of commercial in confidence,” said Nobby Clark of the Gamefish Tasmania Sports Fishing Club.


"We must not make the same mistakes that were going to be made with the super trawler Margiris in 2012. The Australian Government needs to avoid wasting time and money and recognise that a highest value best use of the Small Pelagic Fishery is not allowing a foreign partnership to sell Australia’s fish off cheaply but to protect the multimillion dollar recreational fishery that supports so many Australian micro economies,” said John Edwards President of The Tuna Club of Tasmania, Tasmania’s oldest and largest game fishing club. “It’s a simple message to our government, reject the factory trawler Dirk Dirk before it leaves the Netherlands,” he concluded.

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