Urgent action needed on the Geelong Star

THE Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) is calling for an urgent meeting with the Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce to address growing concerns over the factory freezer vessel the “Geelong Star” fishing Australia’s small pelagic fishery.

The call follows a crisis meeting in Melbourne of the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), the peak body representing Australia’s recreational fishing community, that was attended by representatives of the key state and national recreational fishing organisations from around Australia.

Managing director Allan Hansard said: “A number of events in recent weeks now means that this issue needs urgent attention and we are pleased that following the recent Government reshuffle the Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce now has carriage of the issue”.

The events that have led to this issue requiring urgent Ministerial action are:
* The vessel continues to fish over the top of some of Australia’s most iconic recreational fishing spots, with potential impacts on
Australia’s $10 billion recreational fishery and the hundreds of communities that support it;

* The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has ignored the warnings from the ARFF and have removed the night time fishing ban on the Geelong Star, increasing the probability of further dolphin and seal deaths and the localised depletion of fish stocks;

* A Senate inquiry has been called into the operations of large factory freezer vessels following concerns over the management of the small pelagic fishery;

* Some Government MPs are now organising public rallies and are calling for the Geelong Star to be banned, as a result of growing local community concern; and

* The recent Ministerial reshuffle has seen the responsibilities for the “Geelong Star” issue now revert to the Minister of Agriculture.

Minister Joyce is known for putting the interests of Australians and particularly local communities before foreign interests and we are keen for him to have a fresh look at this issue and act to resolve it now.  

If it is not fixed and the Geelong Star is allowed to adversely impact on recreational fishing, business and tourism opportunities around Australia’s coast line, come summer there will be a lot of very unhappy families, businesses and local communities.

Surely the business interests of this foreign owned factory trawler should not be put before the interests of millions of Australian families and hundreds of local businesses and communities.

“We look forward to meeting with Minister Joyce and working constructively with him and his Department to resolve this issue as soon as possible,” said Hansard.

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