Mounting opposition to super trawler visit

ACCORDING to news reports this week plans to bring the world’s second largest super trawler the FV Margiris into Australia appear to have stalled – in more ways than one.

In an ABC news report the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has not received an application for the monster trawler to operate in commonwealth waters around Tasmania.

Acting head of AFMA Nick Rayns told ABC Local Radio that if the company applied to operate the ship, it would take several weeks for the approval process.

“That would be subject to all the normal conditions and requirements of a fishing vessel operating in Australian waters, including the use of mitigation devices to prevent seals and so forth being caught, and also will carry an AFMA observer on board to make sure that all actions of the vessel are done legally and legitimately,” he said.

The mackerel and red bait quota limits for Seafish Tasmania have been raised to 18,000 tonnes, sparking community concerns about overfishing.

In Parliament this week, Independent Andrew Wilkie urged Prime Minister Julia Gillard to reconsider letting the FV Magiris into Australian waters.

The Prime Minister says approval had not been given for the ship to enter Australia.

“Unless the regulator can be absolutely certain that that vessel will operate in a genuinely sensible and sustainable way, it should not be allowed into Australian waters,” Wilkie told ABC radio.

“It is not in our national interest. I don’t think it’s in the interest of Australia’s very important fishing industry.”

Rec fisherman Nobby Clark of the Tuna Club of Tasmania says it is strange that it has not been filed.

“They’ve spent an awful amount of money getting the ship re-flagged and also reset up to fish our waters, yet still there’s no approval from the governing body AFMA for them to operate in our waters,” he told the ABC.

“So that’s probably a big question that we’ve been asking from the start.”

Seafish says it is confident it will be granted approval.

It says its portion of the AFMA quota is estimated to be about 5 per cent of the total small pelagic fishery. The company says there will be observers monitoring its operation.

In what appears to be a major blow to Seafish’s plans, it has just been reported that Greenpeace has mounted an attack on the FV Margiris to prevent it visiting Australian Waters. The environmental group says its climbers and divers have sabotaged the 140 metre super trawler in the Dutch port of IJmuiden. Activists reportedly put a chain around the ship’s propeller and installed themselves on the cables between the ship and the quay in the early morning attack on Thursday. Read the full report from the NZ Herald HERE.

In related news a spokesman for the “Stop the FV Margiris” petition today told Fisho the protest website has received large public support during the week with signed petitions currently nearing the 11,000 mark.

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