Tuna industry spokesman supports super trawler

THE head of a commercial tuna fishing industry group is backing the arrival of the super trawler FV Margiris into Australia’s southern waters. In contrast, rec fishing groups, other commercial fishing interests and conservation groups are opposing the arrival this month of the 142m-long Dutch-owned vessel which will target local baitfish, including redbait and mackerel.

Southern Bluefin Tuna Association CEO Brian Jeffriess has told the ABC the Margiris could provide opportunities such as supplying feed to the tuna farming industry.

He said the operation would be tightly controlled under scientifically-set quotas.

“It’s taking a big risk. Now people who take that type of risk should be welcomed rather than criticised,” he said.

Jeffriess said it was unlikely the tuna industry would benefit in the short term from the trawler’s arrival.

“The method of catching by this boat makes it doubtful whether it could be suitable for tuna feed so we’re not so interested in that,” he said.

“But what we’re interested in is development of South Australian resources in the Great Australian Bight and frankly this is the best trial – experimental way – to show whether it can be best utilised or not.”

Ceduna Mayor Allan Suter has other ideas about the prospect of the trawler’s arrival.

He said the trawler’s prospective catch would make a mockery of marine park plans outlined by federal and state governments.

“Bringing in a super, super vessel that has 40 crew and can catch thousands of tonnes of fish in a single trip … that to me is the ultimate hypocrisy,” he told the ABC.

“We are very disturbed about the level of restrictions that are being imposed on our fishers and to see something like this happen is unbelievably foolish.”

As had been earlier reported, an alliance of conservation groups last week launched a petition calling for the FV Margiris to be banned from Australian waters. Details at:

Greenpeace has also come out to say these super trawlers “are not normal fishing boats, but floating factories which have plundered other fisheries.”

A Federal Government official has said marine parks and the trawler’s planned operation in Australian waters are separate issues. She said Australia had some of the most sustainable and best-managed fisheries in the world, with strict Government regulations.

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