Foreign boats set to fish in Australian waters

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The Australian Fisheries Management Authority are in talks with several operators about allowing foreign boats to operate in Australia’s fishing zone.

THE Federal Government is allegedly stripping marine protections from remote waters off the Australian coast because it plans to change the law to allow foreign fishing boats with low-paid crews to fish there, a leading fisheries expert claims.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority says some waters are being under-fished and they are in talks with several operators about allowing foreign boats to operate in Australia’s fishing zone under existing laws.

The Turnbull government has proposed changes to the 3.3 million square kilometres of Australia’s protected offshore regions, allowing commercial fishing in a host of sensitive marine areas.

Dr Quentin Hanich, head of fisheries governance research at the University of Wollongong’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, said many of the proposed changes were in distant waters far from port and “it had never been profitable for the fishers to go there”.

“But if you allow cheap distant-water vessels to come in … those vessels won’t come into port. That combined with subsidised fuel, a $1000 annual wage and a whole bunch of problems with the way they treat their crews means they have incredibly low costs and can fish those remote areas,” he said.

“Not only does that undermine the protection of those conservation values, it will return incredibly little benefit to Australia.”

You can read the full article HERE.


AFMA and Seafood Industry Australia contacted Fishing World in response to this article an offered the below comments.

A spokesperson for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) said: “The suggestion, backed by conservationists, has been rejected by the government as ‘unsubstantiated scaremongering’”.

“There are a very small number of vessels deemed for operation in Australia. The last time one was deemed was in 2015,” said the spokesperson.

“When and if AFMA receives an application for a foreign boat to be deemed as Australian it will be assessed on its merits against legal and policy requirements. Any vessel to be deemed Australian would require Australian control over the vessel’s operations and must follow the rules and regulations of the Commonwealth fishery it will operate in, along with all of the other laws that fishing vessels are required to abide by. The application needs to demonstrate benefits to Australia.”

Jane Lovell CEO of Seafood Industry Australia rejects claims in the SMH article as “mistruths being circulated by environmental groups”.

“There have been no changes to protection of offshore areas. Even a cursory look at Parks Australia website would have made this clear,” said Lovell.

“The actual proposal of the current government is the implementation of a network of marine reserves that will replace the plans proposed but never implemented by the former government,” she said.

“The revised network would see around 25% of Australia’s waters in no-take marine protected areas meaning Australia would have the one of the largest area of highly protected waters of any country in the world.

“Further, the motivation for review of the management of Marine Reserves is not linked to foreign vessels or to rates of pay for workers. It is based on concerns regarding the scientific rigour and level of community consultation associated with the management plans created under the previous Labor government.”


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