Trawler may be ready to quit

CONTROVERSIAL fishing vessel the Abel Tasman appears set to leave Australian waters.

 The Examiner   understands that the super trawler, formerly known as the Margiris, is due to be reflagged as a Lithuanian ship and will soon leave Australia.

Triabunna-based Seafish Tasmania, which brought the Abel Tasman to Tasmania, would not comment when asked if the trawler was leaving Australia.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman  confirmed yesterday that  the ship  was no longer an Australian-registered vessel.

But she said the Abel Tasman, which is berthed in Port Lincoln in South Australia, was still allowed to remain in Australia. 

The Abel Tasman arrived from Holland last year but was denied permission to fish by Environment Minister Tony Burke after a public outcry.

Mr Burke said yesterday: ``The message to everyone is clear - this government won't take risks with our ocean. 

``And if the Liberals take charge, it will be back by Christmas.''

Flinders Port Holdings chief executive Vincent Tremaine said he understood the Abel Tasman was doing sea trials to test its engines but would return to its berth in Port Lincoln.  Flinders Port Holdings owns the port  there.

Tasmanian Greens primary industries spokesman Kim Booth yesterday released a report called  Super Trawler: Netting more than their Fair Share.

Mr Booth said the report, completed by his office, had found some small businesses agreed that the super trawler would create jobs.

But  those businesses were concerned that these jobs would be short-term and  risk displacing long-term jobs already generated by Tasmanian businesses.

He said fishers were concerned that the Abel Tasman would catch low-value fish and upset the ecosystem for more valuable catches.

``Australia needs to consider that the profits to be made from this venture are not worth risking the food chain that feeds the more valuable fish species,'' he said.

The Abel  Tasman

The Abel Tasman