The Abel Tasman and Seafish Tasmania director, Gerry Geen. (Photo: Seafish Tasmania/FIS)
Seafish Tasmania tries another tactic to fish Australian waters
Thursday, January 17, 2013, 05:30 (GMT + 9)
Seafish Tasmania is trying to get around Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke’s decision to ban its super trawler Abel Tasman by purchasing a smaller ship from an overseas company. This new vessel will allow Seafish to catch its 18,000-ton quota of jack mackerel and redbait, without having to wait two years for scientific studies to determine the environmental risks posed by the Abel Tasman.
Seafish Tasmania Director Gerry Geen said the company is considering leasing a 90-m ship from the same company that supplied the super trawler. It previously offered to reduce the ship's catch, but Australia’s government still would not permit the super trawler to fish in its territorial waters.
"They have a number of vessels which are entirely suitable for this fishery and we would like to use one of those kinds of boats where we can freeze the fish on board, get a catch for human consumption and catch it economically," he said, ABC reports. "There are a number of boats and we have provided specific information to the government."
Additional scientific studies into the Abel Tasman’s environmental effects on local ecosystems from southern Queensland to the Bass Strait and Western Australia were ordered after an investigation was launched, when Independent Federal MP Andrew Wilkie submitted a complaint about Seafish's quota. The investigation uncovered that Geen was allowed to be present during meetings recommending catch limits for jack mackerel and redfish, despite the clear conflict of interest.
But Geen thinks Wilkie has an ulterior motive.
"I'm very concerned it was used by Wilkie in a political context to harden public opinion against our project, using the Abel Tasman to catch what is now a lawfully set quota and I think that was extremely damaging," Geen added.
This week, however, Geen was cleared of accusations of improper conduct related to sitting in on the quota-setting limits. The Commonwealth Ombudsman decided, it was the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), and not Geen, that was to blame, The Australian reports.
- Govt bans supertrawler for two years
- Seafish Tasmania tries new strategy to keep fishing rights
By Natalia Real