Colbeck slams ARFF over supertrawler stance

FEDERAL Fisheries Minister Richard Colbeck has slammed the peak national rec fishing organisation over its support for a ban on supertrawlers, saying a statement from the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation which called for more science on the contentious small pelagic fishery was “premature”.

“It appears ARFF is attacking access to the fishery and positioning themselves to lobby for the fishery to be closed rather than dealing with the issue based on sound science,” Senator Colbeck said.

However, the ARFF release (see HERE) was issued after a comprehensive briefing by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority on the science currently available on the fishery.

“We were given the latest information on this fishery via a briefing session organised by the Government. We attended the session, listened to the science presented by AFMA officials and then told the Government what we thought based on the information received,” ARFF MD Allan Hansard told Fisho.

“The fact is AFMA told us nothing new. There remains significant uncertainty about the impacts of industrial fishing on these baitfish stocks.

“We understand the federal Government is currently reviewing the small pelagic fishery so we thought it was important the Prime Minister understood our position on supertrawlers. We’re not sure why Senator Colbeck is criticising this. He wanted us to hear what the AFMA officials had to say. We’ve done what he wanted. We can’t help it if the science we were given doesn’t say what he wants it to.”

Senator Colbeck said the Government has responsibility for balancing an important recreational function and maintaining a sustainable seafood supply and food security for those who can’t or don’t participate in that recreation.

“Seafood is one of the most important sources of protein on the planet and makes up 25 per cent of the animal protein task. It is vital to our food security,” he said.

Fisho understands that any future Australian small pelagic fishery would export its catch for consumption overseas. The main market is thought to be African countries whose fisheries were previously wiped out by unsustainable pressure from international supertrawler fleets. It’s understood the fish would sell for about $1 per kilo. The company which seeks to exploit the SPF argues that supertrawlers are the only economically viable way to catch and process the small baitfish for export.

It is uncertain how this fishery would contribute to Australia’s food security.

Many recreational fishers are concerned that giving supertrawlers access to baitfish stocks could cause a downturn in tuna and marlin fisheries as these pelagic predators rely on the SPF for their main food source. Depletion of baitfish stocks by industrial fishing could also impact on seals, dolphins, whales and seabird populations.

Senator Colbeck said Australia is making the hard decisions to put our fisheries back on track to achieve healthy and sustainable stocks.

“For the first time in eight years we now have no solely Commonwealth managed fisheries subject to overfishing,” he said.

“Australia’s fisheries are world class, sustainably managed and based on the best available scientific advice – and will continue to be so under this Government’s watch.”

It is expected that the Government will make a decision on supertrawlers and the SPF within the next few weeks.

What's your reaction?

Related Posts

Load More Posts Loading...No More Posts.