Margiris KL749, a Lithuanian-flageed super trawler. (Photo: Pierre Gleizes / Greenpeace)
Community rebels against super trawler
Monday, July 16, 2012, 23:40 (GMT + 9)
Seafish Pelagic is up against public opposition as it lobbies for support to bring a super trawler to Tasmania. Environmentalists and some fishers worry the vessel will wipe out regional waters.
Seafish Pelagic Director Gerry Geen argues that the quota of fish the super trawler Margiris was permitted to take has been ignored and instead people have been distracted by the vessel’s size due to “misleading comments from politicians."
Geen said Seafish Tasmania usually enjoyed an annual quota of between 16,000 and 25,000 tonnes of fish over the past 10 years compared with the current 2012-13 quota of 17,800 tonnes. The Margiris will target jack mackerel and redbait in Commonwealth waters and the fish will be sent to West Africa for human consumption.
"People have got to see past the size of the boat and look at the structure it will operate in. It is the best place in the world for a boat like this to be," he said, Sunday Tasmanian reports.
Dr Bob Kearney, an Emeritus Professor in fisheries management at the University of Canberra and former member of the board of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), says that those statements claiming the Margiris will deplete local fish stocks are completely false, ABC reports.
"This is a species that's extremely abundant by Australian standards," he said. "I would be really surprised if a catch of 100,000 tonnes did any harm to the species, and even if it did, it would recover very quickly if that catch was reined in."
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said that he recently met with Geen.
"Their pitch to me was that they would be taking such a small proportion of the Australian stock that there would be no impact to fisheries but I was not persuaded by their argument," he said. "I remain standing with the local commercial fishermen and the recreational anglers, and I don't want to see the boat in Australian waters."
Wilkie expressed concern because the super trawler is already headed to Tasmania even though it has not yet been granted an operating licence, The Mercury reports.
"That's why I worry they've been given a nod and wink [from the Federal Government]," he said.
Greens MP Kim Booth shares the concern and has called on federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig to rule out granting an operating licence to the super trawler.
"Federal minister Ludwig could put an end to all this community disquiet and angst by simply ruling out this super trawler being granted a licence to operate in Australian waters," he said.
A spokesperson for Ludwig said they had not yet received an application for an operating licence.
"It is not the role of the Fisheries Minister to intervene and make operational decisions on behalf of the independent fisheries authority," she said. "Should the Margiris apply and be approved, it would be held to the same high standard of regulation as all operators."
Fishers will hold simultaneous protests across the state this week.
- Greenpeace activists keep super-trawler from leaving port
By Natalia Real