Super trawler ban challenged

LAWYERS for the owners of the banned super trawler Abel Tasman claim the federal Government’s laws preventing the vessel fishing Commonwealth waters are invalid.   

At a hearing into the super trawler ban the Commonwealth rejected claims it had ignored advice when it temporarily banned the Abel Tasman from fishing Australian waters.

The Australian reports lawyers for the vessel’s owners, Seafish Tasmania, have applied to the Federal Court to overturn the two-year ban. They claim laws passed last year are invalid partly because the minister who introduced them, Environment Minister Tony Burke, failed to take into account a relevant submission by Seafish. The submission outlined strict conditions which the 142-metre trawler Abel Tasman would operate under and which were designed to protect the environment.

On the second day of hearings, lawyers for the Commonwealth replied that Mr Burke had considered the Seafish submission in detail.

Barrister Richard Niall SC said the minister had concluded an expert panel was needed to assess the environmental impact of a super trawler.

The ban was a “holding position” to allow the panel time to make its assessment, he told the court.

Justice John Logan was critical of the drafting of the legislation. He said it had been rushed and failed to adequately define the type of vessel that was banned.

Hearings will conclude today when Justice Logan is expected to reserve his decision until a later date.

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