Geelong Star could start night fishing again

FEDERAL fisheries authorities are considering overturning a ban preventing controversial factory trawler the Geelong Star from fishing at night.

Fisho last week received information that the night fishing ban – which was implemented by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to prevent the factory trawler from killing dolphins – could be overturned as early as this week.

AFMA has since clarified the situation, saying it is currently considering a recommendation to review the night fishing ban made by a SPF Technical Marine Mammal Workshop.

The workshop, which was held in late June, recommends that AFTA review “as soon as possible for a ban on night time fishing when a trigger limit on dolphin mortalities is in place”.

Fisho has requested details on when a decision on the ban will be made. It’s understood that a “trigger limit” means a certain number of dolphins can be killed by the Geelong Star before AFMA steps in to impose any restrictions.

Meantime, the Game Fishing Association of Australia has written to AFMA seeking a briefing on the night fishing ban situation.

The planned review of the night fishing ban comes after the industry organisation representing the factory trawler complained that the night ban was a “draconian measure” which was preventing the Geelong Star from turning a profit.

Graham Turk, chairman of the Small Pelagic Fishery Association, told the ABC the factory trawler was “struggling” due to the night fishing ban. See article HERE (

AFMA instigated the ban after the trawler killed eight dolphins and a number of seals during its first two fishing expeditions earlier in the year.

The foreign-owned vessel targets redbait, which mass up during the night. Seals, dolphins and other marine predators also target the bait during this time, meaning that “interactions” between the predators and the factory trawler’s massive nets are extremely difficult to prevent.

See article HERE (

Meantime, federal Fisheries Minister Senator Richard Colbeck has attempted to allay concerns about factory trawlers in Australian waters by advising that the blue genadier fishery, which has recently attained Marine Stewardship Council certification, has been operating mid water trawler vessels for the past 19 years.

The argument that freezer trawlers cannot sustainably operate in Australian waters (has been) blown out of the water,” Senator Colbeck said in reference to the MSC certification for the blue grenadier fishery.

However, Senator Colbeck did not address concerns specifically relating to the Geelong Star, which Fisho understands operates in a different fishery to the boats targeting blue grenadier.

Concerns relating to the Geelong Star involve possible localised depletion impacts on recreational sport and game fishing plus “interactions” involving marine mammals.

As far as Fisho is aware, neither of the concerns are an issue with the blue grenadier fishery.

Senator Colbeck told Fisho he is “aware” that AFMA is considering a review of the night fishing ban.

“Decisions about Commonwealth fisheries are made using the best available science and this will continue under the Coalition’s watch,” Senator Colbeck said. “The Government has full confidence in AFMA as Australia’s world class fisheries manager.”

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