Environment groups get on board trawler protest

WHILE for the past two months the rec fishing sector has been voicing opposition to the federal Government’s decision to allow the super trawler FV Margiris in to Australian waters, the silence on this issue from local conservation groups hadn’t gone unnoticed. That situation finally changed this week when an alliance consisting of 14 environment groups came out to announce it had launched the “Stop the Super Trawler” campaign.

As as been previously reported by Fisho, the 142-metre long FV Margiris is due to arrive this month and be based in Devonport in Tasmania from where it will fish the east coast to fill an 18,000 tonne quota of jack (slimy) mackerel and redfish for export. 

“This campaign has been launched to stop the introduction of the Margiris and other super trawlers in Australian waters after thousands of people have raised concerns,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Environment Tasmania’s Marine Coordinator. “So far the Federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig’s response to these concerns has been deafening silence.”

Jon Bryan, spokesperson for the Tasmanian Conservation Trust, said that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has failed to address crucial ecological issues.

“This super trawler increases the threat of localised depletions of target fish stocks. AFMA has failed to offer any effective strategies to address this critical issue, so our organisations had no choice but to elevate our campaign,” Bryan said.

“Basic scientific information about the fish stocks is lacking, such as fish movements and how long it would take for populations to recover from overfishing. This super trawler could spell disaster for the fish they are targeting and others in the food chain.”

“The Margiris poses an unacceptable threat to our marine wildlife, which are supposed to be protected under Australian law,” said Ms. Tooni Mahto, Marine Campaigns Officer with the Australian Marine Conservation Society. “Devices designed to protect Australian fur seals and dolphins getting trapped in these huge nets could be operating as dead animal disposal devices – simply ejecting the animals after they have been killed.”

International conservation group Greenpeace has confronted the FV Margiris twice this year in a campaign to stem the overfishing of African waters by foreign trawlers and to pressure the EU to cut its fleet overcapacity.

“At the recent Rio Summit the Australian Government committed to solving the global overfishing crisis that is being caused in part by massive ships like the Margiris catching too many fish,” said Nathaniel Pelle, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner. “Yet now we are undermining these efforts by welcoming this monster ship with open arms. Make no mistake, allowing the Magiris into Australia would create a precedent that Australian waters are open to exploitation by super trawlers.”

The organisations involved in the Stop The Trawler campaign say they are working with recreational fishing groups on this issue.

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The alliance of organisations includes Environment Tasmania, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, WWF-Australia, Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), Greenpeace, Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA), Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC NSW), Conservation Council of South Australia (CCSA), Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), The Wilderness Society (TWS), Humane Society International (HSI), Ocean Planet Tasmania, Surfrider Foundation Australia and the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA).

For more details on the campaign, visit

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