Geelong Star turns off tracking device

CONTROVERSIAL factory trawler Geelong Star reportedly has its vessel tracking device turned off amidst fears of backlash from activists opposed to the ship fishing Australian waters.

Following recent reports of seal and dolpin deaths caused by the Geelong Star its operator claims they have received threats to harm the ship and crew.

The factory fishing trawler has received approval to fish with a safety tracking device turned off, after the operator raised concerns it could be targeted by activists.

The 95-metre trawler has been fishing without its Automatic Identification System (AIS) turned on so it can avoid detection.

The operator, Seafish Tasmania, told the Australian Maritime Safety Authority there had been threats to harm the ship and its crew.

In a statement to the ABC it claimed radical green groups were behind the threats.

Maritime law expert Michael White is concerned, saying the system helps avoid collisions at sea and turning it off could be dangerous.

“The AIS is a very important tool for safety of vessels not only if they get into trouble – that is, they’re in a collision and start sinking,” he said.

“The rescue teams and the international search and rescue can find immediately where they are.”

The ship’s location is privately reported to fishing authorities using another system, but federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie wants its movements to be public.

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