More transparency needed for Geelong Star after whale shark incident

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THE Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) today called for greater transparency and disclosure of the fishing operations of the Geelong Star.

The call comes after conflicting accounts about a recent interaction between the vessel and a whale shark near Eden NSW.

This latest interaction with a protected species comes after it was very recently revealed that the ship has already killed seals and albatrosses in 2016.

Whale sharks, seals and albatrosses are all protected species under the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES. See the full list of Australia’s protected marine species here).

A spokesperson from AFMA said, “AFMA can confirm that the Geelong Star had an interaction with a whale shark. The whale shark ran into the outside of the net and two fins had to be freed. An AFMA observer was present during the release of the whale shark. The whale shark swam away without difficulty. There were no injuries observed.”

Other unconfirmed reports in the media were that the whale shark had died, and also that it had been caught in the net and been freed using the ship’s winch.

The ARFF has called for the video footage of the vessel’s operation during the intervention to be made available to confirm the actual and factual process of events,” said Mr Hansard.

The Small Pelagic Fisheries Industry Association (SPFIA) on its Facebook released the following video “showing the whale shark swimming away”.



Whale Shark Swims Away


Posted by Small Pelagic Fishery Industry Association Inc. on Tuesday, February 16, 2016


“This encounter has raised the issue of how many interactions like this one with the whale shark and other threatened and endangered species have occurred that we don’t know the full story about,” Hansard said.

“In addition, it raises the issue about other by catch of the vessel. How many marlin, kingfish and other valuable species for recreational fishing – in addition to the bait it extracts –has the Geelong Star caught that we do not know about?”

The ARFF is calling on all information on discarded fish species caught by the Geelong Star to be made public.

In its submission to the Senate Inquiry on Supertrawlers ARFF raises this issue and states that: “fish that are not sold and are discarded are recorded on logbooks of the Geelong Star. However, the data is not publically available. This situation makes it impossible to determine the potential impact of the Geelong Star‘s activities on key recreational species that are non-target species. As these species are high value species for recreational fishing, it could be that the Geelong Star is catching, killing and discarding species that potentially exceed the value of the small pelagic fish it is catching for sale from these areas.”

See the full ARFF submission to the Senate Inquiry into Supertrawlers here.

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