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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Margiris- update from down under.

The 143m Margiris is currently steaming north...

yesterday, she was one of a handful of flagged and foreign supertrawlers working off the west coast of Ireland.


Report from Australian media:

NICK GRIMM: An environmentalist and a fisherman from Tasmania have travelled to Canberra today to deliver a petition signed by 30,000 people asking the Federal Government to permanently ban super trawlers.

The pair represent a range of groups from around the country working together in opposition to vessels of that type.

The Federal Government introduced a temporary ban on the ships two years ago in response to a Tasmanian company's plan to use a 143 metre-long super trawler.

One of the temporary bans expired last week and the next will expire in April next year.

Felicity Ogilvie reports.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The company Seafish Tasmania already has a quota to fish for mackerel redbait and sardines. The fishery extends from the waters around Queensland all the way down to Tasmania then up to the ocean near Perth.

Seafish wanted to cover the huge fishing area with a 143 metre-long super trawler called the Margiris but the move was fiercely opposed by environmentalists and recreational fishers.

The Federal Government responded two years ago by temporarily banning the use of super trawlers. Now one of those bans has expired and the other ban is up for review in April. Seafish Tasmania has made it clear it won't be bringing the Margiris back to Australia but those who opposed it are worried that other super trawlers could be brought in.

Rebecca Hubbard is an environmentalist who coordinates the Stop the Trawler Alliance and she's in Canberra today to deliver a petition to politicians. 

REBECCA HUBBARD: Well, we're urging the Government to legislate a permanent ban on super trawlers in Australian waters, considering the huge risk that super trawlers will pose to our fisheries and our marine life here. 

FELICITY OGILVIE: A spokesman for Seafish Tasmania says the company holds a quota for the fishery and will fish it in the future.

How and when that will occur will be announced by the company in due course.

Rebecca Hubbard is worried that Seafish Tasmania will bring in another super trawler to be used in the fishery. 

REBECCA HUBBARD: Look, it's not really related to the length of the trawlers but what we do know is these huge freezer factory capacities of these trawlers is what gives them the ability to really have a massive impact and really damage our fisheries and impact upon protected species more extensively.

So what we want is a permanent ban on industrial freezer factory trawlers.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Nobby Clark is also in Canberra today. He's representing recreational fishers who are worried about the effect that super trawlers targeting smaller fish would have on larger sports species like tuna.

NOBBY CLARK: Look, we believe that what could happen is that high levels of bait could be taken out of certain areas of the fishery and this could have a direct impact on the bigger prey species that frequent that area. We've seen this happen before in Tasmania, which is renowned for having some very heavy fishing of small pelagic.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Federal Government commissioned an expert panel to look at the fishery that Seafish Tasmania has its quota in. The panel considered issues such as localised depletion of fish stocks and impacts on protected species such as seals and sea birds. The panel has found fishing will result in the deaths of some seals and birds but the experts couldn't say to what extent that would happen.

Rebecca Hubbard from the Stop the Trawler Alliance says the uncertainty should prompt a ban.

REBECCA HUBBARD: Well, from our point of view the expert panel really confirms that conservation and recreational fishing groups have been raising for a number of years, these super trawlers could have a great impact on our protected and threatened species, and they could cause extensive impacts on the local fishing populations, but we just don't have the information to be able to assess that impact or manage that impact.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Federal Government is still considering its response to the expert panel's report.

NICK GRIMM: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.