Two sharks dressed in suits delivered 27,782 petitioners’ names in a net to politicians from across Australia at Parliament House in support of a permanent ban on super trawlers in Australian waters.
“The first two year ban on super trawlers has ended, sending a concerning message that Australia is open to big boat business, despite consistent, overwhelming opposition from a broad cross-section of the Australian public,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Environment Tasmania Marine Coordinator and Coordinator of the Stop the Trawler Alliance.
The temporary two-year ban of super trawlers in 2012 required an inquiry by a Government appointed scientific panel into the impacts of a super trawler in the Small Pelagic Fishery. The Panel’s report was released publicly last week, marking the end of the first two-year ban.
“The Government’s expert panel has confirmed that localised depletion of small pelagic fish is likely to occur and could seriously impact on species that rely on them for food, but there is no way to measure that impact or manage against it,” said Neil Clark of GameFish Tasmania Sports Fishing Club.
"Considering that this fishery supports a huge gamefishing industry on the eastern seaboard, a mutton bird industry, and other commercial fisheries, the Government should be acting to protect these values from the risks that foreign freezer trawlers pose," concluded Mr Clark.
“The expert panel confirmed that industrial freezer trawlers pose a high threat to protected species like dolphins, seals and seabirds, and that exclusion devices are not proven to work,” said Alexia Wellbelove from Humane Society International.
“Much smaller vessels have already caused the deaths of protected dolphins in this fishery, so it is critical we take a precautionary approach and ban super trawlers in order to minimize Australia’s fishing impacts on these unique, little-known and fragile species,” concluded Ms Wellbelove.
Senator Ludwig of the ALP has tabled a Private Members Bill which amends the current super trawler legislation to ban super trawlers on an individual basis. Senator Whish-Wilson of the Australian Greens has tabled an amendment to Senator Ludwig’s Private Members Bill that permanently bans all large freezer factory trawlers. Independent Jacqui Lambie has also called for a permanent ban on super trawlers.
“The combination of environmental, social and economic impacts of super trawlers in Australian waters could be devastating for our coastal communities and oceans. It’s time for Prime Minister Abbott to deliver on his promise to keep industrial freezer trawlers out of Australian waters, and secure the future of our fisheries with a permanent ban on super trawlers,” concluded Ms Hubbard.
The Stop the Trawler Alliance is a national alliance of twenty-two conservation, diving and fishing groups that work together to oppose the introduction of super trawlers into Australian waters.