Burke moves to stop super trawler

IN the wake of substantial public opposition, the federal Cabinet has signed off on a bill that will prevent the super trawler Abel Tasman (previously flagged FV Margiris) from fishing in Australian waters – until new scientific research is carried out,

Cabinet signed off on the plan last night in the face of growing unrest on the Labor backbench which would have seen a private member’s bill put forward to ban the trawler.

Environment Minister Tony Burke had last week imposed restrictions on the trawler to try to limit the amount of by-catch in the form dolphins, seals and sea lions the factory ship caught.

Burke said he will introduce legislation to Parliament today that will extend his legal powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), allowing him to order more scientific research to assess the impact of the trawler on Australia’s oceans.

“There has never been a fishing vessel of this capacity in Australia before and the EPBC Act needs to be updated so that it can deal with it,” Burke said.

“If we get this wrong there are risks to the environment, to commercial operators and to everyone who loves fishing and they are risks I am not prepared to take.”

The Environment Minister says the legislation will give him the power to stop the Abel Tasman fishing in Commonwealth waters for up to two years while an expert panel is set up to assess the environmental impact.

But the Australian Fishing Managament Authority has said the trawler’s quota is based on sound science.

At a press conference today, Greens leader Christine Milne welcomed news the super trawler had been stalled but hoped legislation would eventually see super trawlers banned.

For video of a press conference conducted today by federal Environment Minister Tony Burke and Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig go to:

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