95m trawler given green light to fish

THE controversial Dutch-owned factory freezer trawler Geelong Star has been given initial Federal Government approval to fish, despite concerted opposition.

Geelong Star would be the largest trawler to fish in Australian waters, after bigger sister ship, the Margiris, was banned in 2012.

The 95 metre vessel arrived last Wednesday in Albany, WA, and after being inspected by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) was expected to begin fishing within days.

The Geelong Star will target jack mackerel and redbait around south-eastern Australia from Queensland to WA as part of the Small Pelagic Fishery. The ship has a slightly lower 16500 tonne quota than that proposed for the Margiris.

AFMA announced the Geelong Star’s arrival in a statement, saying its inspection confirmed compliance with requirements for GPS tracking, and for nets that included devices to minimise seabird, seal and dolphin deaths.

A plan to manage the fishing must next be finalised to minimise its impacts on other commercial and recreational fisheries, according to AFMA’s general manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas.

“Today’s inspection of the Geelong Star is just the first in what will become a regular event for this vessel when operating in the Small Pelagic Fishery” Mr Venslovas said.

The Stop The Trawler Alliance said it understood the Geelong Star was refuelling and was expected to start fishing as soon as the just completed Easter holiday weekend.

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