Has Burke saved the day?

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Feature Story - 6 September, 2012
On Monday evening the Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, announced his hands were tied to stop the Margiris super trawler. Instead, he would implement “tough” conditions to prevent marine animals being killed. So does this solve the problem?
Stop the Super Trawler MargirisThese photos were taken by researchers on board Dutch super trawlers while conducting peer-reviewed studies.

The Margiris is no ordinary fishing vessel and Australians know it. Tens of thousands of passionate community members, fishing groups and environmentalists have been up in arms about the risk the Margiris – the world’s second largest super trawler – poses to Australian fish stocks, marine biodiversity and fishing communities.

The noise we have generated together has forced the government to take note. Minister Burke listened to our concerns when he imposed new conditions on the Margiris. For instance, one of the conditions is, if there are 10 seal deaths in a 24 hour period, the Margiris must suspend where it is fishing and move 50 nautical miles away. Another is an observer must be on board 24 hours a day.

Why is this not enough?

  • The level of bycatch is reduced, but not eliminated. Effectively, the Margiris is allowed to kill 10 seals every 50 nautical miles. Recreational fishers get in trouble if they injure or move a seal, but the Margiris is allowed to kill them.
  • It won’t prevent localised depletion of fish stocks, the impact on fishing communities or the threat of collapsed fish stocks. Super trawlers collapsed fish stocks from Europe to West Africa and the Pacific. Will Australia be next?
  • The fact that the fishing quota was increased for the Margiris is currently being investigated by the Ombudsman.
  • The Margiris should not be permitted to fish until these results are in.
  • It doesn’t address the larger issues of overcapacity of fishing vessels and European Union taxpayer subsidies that prop up this super trawler and disadvantage Australian fishing industries.
  • If the Margiris is approved, it opens the flood gates for more super trawlers to come to Australia.

So what is the answer? It is simple. Don’t let the Margiris go fishing. Send it home to Europe and put a ban on all super trawlers coming to Australian waters.

The Margiris has not officially been approved. Yet it is poised to begin fishing as soon as it is given the green light. Minister Burke has indicated he doesn’t have the power to stop the Margiris.  The Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig can, but he’s sitting on his hands, ignoring the community, fishermen and scientists who oppose it.

This issue of national importance therefore urgently rests with the Prime Minister. Join nearly 50,000 people who have signed the petition demanding Prime Minister Gillard put an end to super trawlers before it’s too late.

Take ActionNo super trawlers. Not here. Not anywhere.