Catch size is key point

A SUPER trawler could work in Australia because existing laws will control the catch, says the head of a  major fishing group.

Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council chief executive Neil Stump said yesterday the debate about the Abel Tasman super trawler, formerly called the Magiris, had too much emotion and not enough fact.

He was commenting on the absence of the super trawler from the Liberal fishing and seafood policy announced on the weekend.

Public opposition thwarted a plan by Triabunna-based Seafish Tasmania to bring the 143-metre Abel Tasman to Australia, with the Federal Court recently upholding a temporary ban on the vessel.

Mr Stump said emotion surrounded the size of the vessel, but the key point was the size of the catch.

He said existing management controls meant the Abel Tasman would fish to a quota, that ``move on'' provisions meant no area would be overfished, and the plan was to fish the coast from Western Australia to New South Wales, an enormous area. 

A state government spokesperson said Labor did not support a super trawler and they were banned from fishing in Tasmanian waters.

Labor did not support their operation in Commonwealth waters, but the federal government refused to guarantee there would be no super trawler.

A Liberal spokesman said the party supported the super trawler ban and  Mr Stump's comments did not prompt a rethink.

The Greens also support the super trawler ban.

Mr Stump said bringing the Abel Tasman to Australia was not just a ``thought bubble'' by Seafish Tasmania - the company had spent years working on a plan to catch the quota in the most efficient way, and still had that quota.

``They thought they had done due process and the decision was reversed,'' Mr Stump said.

``They were being forced into being inefficient.''

He said opinion on the Abel Tasman was divided among his members and Seafish Tasmania was a member of the council.

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