Bill to extend super trawler ban

SUPER trawlers would be banned from docking at Tasmanian ports, under legislation to be introduced by the Greens.

Bass Greens MHA Kim Booth announced the policy yesterday to order the state-owned TasPorts to refuse commercial access to super trawlers.

A federal government ban on super trawlers is due to expire in November.

The two-year ban was introduced to block Seafish Tasmania's bid to base a 142-metre-long vessel, the Margiris, also known as the Abel Tasman, at Devonport and fish the pelagic fisheries in Australian waters.

The federal government action was prompted by a huge backlash to Seafish Tasmania's plans from recreational fishers and environmentalists concerned such a vessel would decimate fish stocks.

It was revealed in Senate estimates this week that the expert panel set up to review the science on the issue has spent less than half the $880,000 funding allocated to it for research so far.

Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish- Wilson questioned department officials why so little had been spent and no field study or stock assessment had been conducted.

The panel is due to report back in October.

Mr Booth hoped ordering TasPorts to turn any super trawlers away would send a strong message that the vessels were not welcome in Australia, even if the federal government did not renew the ban.

"The idea of this is to give some power back to the people," Mr Booth said. "If we can get this as a precedent, we are hoping that other states will follow."

All three state parties are opposed to a super trawler operating in Commonwealth waters near Tasmania.

A spokesman for Primary Industries Minister Bryan Green said Labor would, therefore, not allow a super trawler to use its ports.

The Liberals would not say if they would support the Greens' policy, likening the prospect of a super trawler's return to the Titanic's.

"The super trawler is gone and it's not coming back," Liberal infrastructure spokesman Rene Hidding said. "It shows how desperate the Greens are that they want to ban a non-existent ship from our ports."

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