Opposition to super trawler intensifies

WITH the arrival of the super trawler FV Margiris into Australia imminent, the opposition to the vessel fishing in local waters has intensified.

In the latest news, Tasmanian Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has claimed the quota for the trawler is unlawful. The ABC reports that Wilkie has said the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has confirmed the head of Seafish Tasmania Gerry Geen should not have been at the meeting to finalise the super trawler’s quota.

Wilkie says that means the authority did not comply with the law and the quota is invalid.

The head of AFMA, Dr James Findlay, is adamant there has been no conflict of interest and the quota is lawful.

“What I was concerned about is Mr Wilkie seemed to be taking an extreme view of the interpretation of the act, of this section of the act,” Dr Findlay told the ABC.

“Mr Geen had nothing to do with the final decision and nothing to do with the open decision.

“I just don’t understand why we’ve got this sort of criticism, about one small part of the process which I think was followed well.”

Seafish Tasmania says Mr Geen declared a conflict of interest and the company has followed the AFMA rules.

The FV Margiris is currently in the Indian Ocean on its way to Devonport in Tasmania and Seafish expects the 142m long vessel to be fishing by the end of the month.

In related news, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has launched a fight against the super trawler. A spokesman for the group yesterday said the marine conservation activists would do anything they could to assist the coalition of fishing and environment groups opposing the trawler fishing in Australian waters.

He said the group was monitoring developments in the campaign against the massive vessel, expected to arrive in Devonport next month, the Mercury reports.

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen, an environmental disaster at a time when the Australian Government is creating these marine parks and sanctuaries, to even be contemplating something like this which is going to be targeting the very species of fish that the critically endangered southern bluefin tuna eat,” he said.

“We’re getting behind all the other groups, we’re uniting in trying to support them any way we can.”

The spokesman said he was unsure if Sea Shepherd vessels would be involved in direct action against the Margiris.

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