Groups’ launch national ‘Stop the Super Trawler’ campaign

Press release - 31 July, 2012
Fourteen state and national environment groups today announced the national launch of the ‘Stop the Super Trawler’ campaign. The campaign is calling on the Australian Government to respond to community concerns over a massive industrial trawler, the FV Margiris, which is currently steaming towards Tasmania.

The 142-metre long FV Margiris, due to arrive in August, is destined to become part of the Australian fishing fleet unless the government listens to community concerns and rejects the trawler’s application to operate.

“This campaign has been launched to stop the introduction of the Margiris and other super trawlers in Australian waters after thousands of people have raised concerns,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Environment Tasmania’s Marine Coordinator. “So far the Federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig’s response to these concerns has been deafening silence.”

Jon Bryan, spokesperson for the Tasmanian Conservation Trust, said that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has failed to address crucial ecological issues.

“This super trawler increases the threat of localized depletions of target fish stocks. AFMA has failed to offer any effective strategies to address this critical issue, so our organisations had no choice but to elevate our campaign,” Mr Bryan said. “Basic scientific information about the fish stocks is lacking, such as fish movements and how long it would take for populations to recover from overfishing. This super trawler could spell disaster for the fish they are targeting and others in the food chain.”

Waters where the super-trawler is permitted to fish are home to some of Australia’s unique and vulnerable marine wildlife.

“The Margiris poses an unacceptable threat to our marine wildlife, which are supposed to be protected under Australian law”, said Ms. Tooni Mahto, Marine Campaigns Officer with the Australian Marine Conservation Society. “Devices designed to protect Australian fur seals and dolphins getting trapped in these huge nets could be operating as dead animal disposal devices – simply ejecting the animals after they have been killed.”

The Margiris, part of the heavily subsidized European trawler fleet, is on its way to Australia after allegations of overfishing stocks in the South Pacific and off West Africa. Seafish Tasmania has proposed a joint venture with the Dutch owners of the vessel. They plan to catch 18,000 tonnes of small pelagic fish (also known as bait fish) for freezing into 20kg blocks and exporting to Nigeria for $1/kg for human consumption.

Greenpeace has confronted the Margiris twice this year in a campaign to stem the overfishing of African waters by foreign trawlers and to pressure the EU to cut its fleet overcapacity.

“At the recent Rio Summit the Australian Government committed to solving the global overfishing crisis that is being caused in part by massive ships like the Magiris catching too many fish" said Nathaniel Pelle, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner.  “Yet now we are undermining these efforts by welcoming this monster ship with open arms. Make no mistake, allowing the Magiris into Australia would create a precedent that Australian waters are open to exploitation by super trawlers".

The campaign is working with recreational fishing groups on this issue.

Notes to editors:

The alliance of organisations includes Environment Tasmania, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, WWF-Australia, Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), Greenpeace, Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA), Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC NSW), Conservation Council of South Australia (CCSA), Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), The Wilderness Society (TWS), Humane Society International (HSI), Ocean Planet Tasmania, Surfrider Foundation Australia and the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA).

For more details on the campaign, visit the dedicated website:

www.stopthetrawler.net

A petition calling on the Australian Government to reject allowing the FV Margiris to fish in Australian waters, hosted by the Australian organisation Community Run, has been signed by nearly 23,000 people, and can be viewed here:

http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/stop-giant-fishing-trawler-in-tasmania

For more information:

National: Tooni Mahto, Marine Campaigns Officer, Australian Marine Conservation Society -                0467 081 258

Elsa Evers, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Australia Pacific - 0438 204 041

TAS: Rebecca Hubbard, Marine Coordinator, Environment Tasmania - 0401 854 912
  

Jon Bryan, Tasmanian Conservation Trust - 0428 303 116

WA:  John McCarten, Communications Manager, Conservation Council of Western Australia  -              0403 900 193

SA: Tim Kelly, Chief Executive, Conservation Council of South Australia - 0417 879 439

VIC: Simon Branigan, Marine and Coastal Project Officer, Victorian National Parks Association - 0409 087 278   

NSW: Jilea Carney, Media and Communications Officer, Nature conservation Council of New South Wales - 0478 244 020

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