Super trawler 'FV Margiris'. (Photo: Greenpeace)
Protests mount as super trawler arrival approaches
Tuesday, August 14, 2012, 01:20 (GMT + 9)
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has acknowledged that potential exists for Seafish Tasmania’s super trawler FV Margiris to catch a large amount of pelagic fish from one area in Commonwealth waters near Tasmania. He is calling for the examination of additional controls on the vessel to safeguard national fish stocks.
Under a plan developed by federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig, federal officials are convening with joint venturer Seafish Tasmania and recreational fishers to examine additional controls on the ship's operations, which will be targeting redbait, mackerel and fish, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
"This is an extremely large fishery," Burke said. "Is it possible that one large vessel, even though it's doing something that might be sustainable across the whole fishery, could have a localised impact in some areas that is in fact not sustainable at a more local level?"
The Dutch-owned super trawler is supposed to be arriving in less than two weeks, despite vociferous opposition from both fishers and environmentalist groups across the state. Last weekend, Saturday's "National Day of Action" protest in Hobart summoned as many as 300 boats that formed a fleet on the Derwent River.
Speaking in Hobart during the event, Burke admitted that it is a legitimate possibility that the vessel will take large amounts of fish from one area, and he encouraged the public to redirect the main focus to the number of fish caught as opposed to the size of the boat, according to The Age.
"With this particular vessel there can be an added complication with the issue of large takes in a very localised area," Burke explained. "It is important that that aspect of the science be brought into play and that's something that I'm sure the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) will be taking account of."
North-West recreational fisher and protest organiser John Edwards said frustration over government inaction regarding the super trawler was escalating and called support in AFMA's science "blind faith."
He said it was very probable that a protest on Devonport's Mersey River would develop.
Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson also attended the rally in Hobart and described the support as remarkable.
"The government admitted that there has not been scientific research done for the last eight years," Whish-Wilson said. "It should show some leadership and be the one responsible for putting in place the research."
African states have banned the FV Margiris and other European Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA) trawlers because they have depleted inshore fisheries, Fairfax NZ News reports.
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By Natalia Real