Wednesday 18 September 2013: Greenpeace and Environment Tasmania today welcomed Senator Richard Colbeck’s proposal to conduct new surveys of the Australian small pelagic fishery, but cautioned him against using this as a stepping stone to overturning the existing ban on supertrawlers.
Doing so would open Australian waters to destructive fishing vessels like the Margiris. (“Coalition may lift ban on super trawlers”, The Australian, page 2 today).
“Senator Colbeck’s support for new stock surveys should raise the antennas of the Australian public, who so strongly rejected supertrawlers last year,” said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle. “With a long track record of collapsing fisheries around the world, these monster ships have no place in Australian waters. This government needs to understand that when it comes to vessels like the Margiris, no means no.”
Data used to determine Seafish Tasmania’s 18,900 tonne quota is over ten years old. Bringing that up to date is vital and should assist the expert panel in assessing the potential environmental impact of supertrawlers on Australian fisheries. Given the scope of the work however, it is unlikely a reliable survey and stock assessment could be completed before the panel is due to report in September 2014. As such, more time should be granted.
“Greenpeace supports the development of the Australian small pelagic fishery in a precautionary manner,” said Pelle. “Allowing Seafish Tasmania to go after its massive quota now would be the antithesis of precautionary management."
The UN believes the global fishing fleet is already 2.5 times too large for fish stocks to sustain. Highly subsidised ships like the Margiris are a major part of this problem.
“Tens of thousands of Australians have demonstrated that they don’t want super trawlers as part of our fishing future. It’s time the Abbott Government responded to this and permanently banned super trawlers, whilst continuing Australia on a path to more sustainable fisheries management for the sake of our environment and economy,” said Environment Tasmania Marine Coordinator, Rebecca Hubbard.
Nathaniel Pelle, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner - 0402 856 063
Jessa Latona, Greenpeace Communications Officer - 0488 208 465