Australia’s ban on super-sized industrial fishing boats is far too narrow and places local fisheries under threat, environmentalists have said.
A report released on Tuesday by the Australian Marine Conservation Society and Save Our Marine Life says just six of the 76 super trawlers worldwide are banned from operating in Australian waters.
“These ships have the capacity to catch, process and store hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish using one of the most indiscriminate methods you could think of,” said a spokeswoman, Adele Pedder. “Super trawlers are incompatible with everything we are striving for in our marine environment.”
The federal government’s ban on super trawlers includes boats of 130 metres.
But the report says the 95-metre Geelong Star – a freezer-fitted vessel capable of holding 1,000 tonnes of catch – is viewed globally as a super trawler and this should be the new minimum.
Save Our Marine Life campaigned to ban the Geelong Star when it controversially operated in Australia’s southern waters in 2015 and 2016. The deaths of 47 seals, 11 albatross and nine dolphins were linked to the first 18 months of its operations, according to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.
The report says foreign fishing vessels are looking to Australia after stocks elsewhere have been depleted by overfishing. “Australian waters are now in their sights,” the report author Chris Smyth said.
“Fishing regulations notionally prohibit the entry of foreign fishing vessels, but this has not stopped the approval of foreign super trawlers to fish in Australian waters.”
Smyth called for a federal parliamentary inquiry into the threat of foreign fishing fleets and the adequacy of current regulations.
–From The Guardian
From 2016: The (Geelong Star) trawler has been penalised in the past for killing dolphins, fur seals and albatrosses and was widely disliked by the Australian recreational fishing public for its devastating impacts on fish stocks and other wildlife. While fishing Australian waters, the Geelong Star had access to the majority of the Small Pelagic Fishery, which stretches from Perth to northern Queensland. While the Small Pelagic Fishery was set up for the benefit of Australians, who also footed the bill for management and research, the majority of Geelong Star’s catch was sent to West Africa.