Can Burke stop Margiris?

FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke has said the controversial super-trawler the FV Margiris could still be stopped from fishing in Australia. 

The Australian reports that Burke is opposed to the trawler and says a private member’s bill from ALP backbencher Melissa Parke in coming weeks could see the ship banned.

Current environmental laws do not allow the minister to stop the vessel from fishing Australian waters.

“The momentum that you’ve seen over the last few months, just watch what happens with the private member’s bill,” Burke told the Macquarie Radio Network.

“I suspect it’s got quite a way to run.”

Burke has announced the boat which is in the process of being renamed the Abel Tasman, will have an AFMA observer on board and an underwater camera in its net.

Talking on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, the minister said the trawler will have to stop fishing and travel 50 nautical miles (92 kilometres) before it restarts if dolphins or seals are caught by its nets, and will need to avoid sea lion hunting grounds.

Burke has said he had thrown every restriction he legally could at the super trawler and that it was not the government’s view that “this is the end of the matter”.

Evidence he had been presented with had fallen just short of being enough to ban the ship, but that could change.

“Part of the reason that I put the rules in place about monitors and cameras is that, if the evidence is collected, that potentially could activate the one clause of the act that would allow me to go harder,” he said.

Green groups believe the Environment Minister currently has the power to ban the ship from fishing Commonwealth waters.

Greens leader Christine Milne said Tony Burke could have made it a condition that no by-catch was caught, which would have sent the trawler on its way.

She said a Greens motion in the Senate could yet disallow trawler operator Seafish Tasmania’s quota of 18,000 tonnes of small pelagic fish.

Currently, the controversial trawler is docked at Port Lincoln in South Australia where the state’s environment minister Paul Caica has told parliament the ship would not be granted permission to operate in South Australian waters.

Read a related opinion piece HERE.

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