Senate to trawl over fish quota

WE don't want it here. 

That's the message the Tasmanian Parliament has sent to federal MPs  considering the Devonport-bound super trawler. 

An amended Greens motion opposing the operation of the FV Margiris in Australian waters was unanimously supported by members of the House of Assembly yesterday. 

Greens Bass MHA Kim Booth said that it sent a strong message to Federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig.

``It's an absolute rejection of both the assessment done by AFMA (Australian Fishing Management Authority) of this vessel and a call on the federal minister not to allow it to operate in Australian waters and that's very significant,'' Mr Booth said.  

Seafish Tasmania is bringing the vessel to Tasmania and plans to trawl 18,000 tonnes of red bait and jack mackerel from Australian waters near Western Australia to the New South Wales coast.

The motion notes the anger and concern of recreational fishers who fear localised depletion and the impact that will have on game fish that feed on the small pelagic fish. 

``Senator Ludwig has failed to demonstrate that this commercial fishery activity will be sustainable and will not cause localised depletion off Tasmania,'' the motion reads. 

Speaker Michael Polley will write to Senator Ludwig expressing the shared concerns of the Parliament.    

Mr Booth said that the pressure was now on federal Liberal and Labor MPs to support their state colleagues. 

The Senate was last night debating a motion to quash the quota awarded to the vessel. 

Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson moved the motion which would effectively halt the factory ship.

Seafish Tasmania's Gerry Geen yesterday defended its plans.

Mr Geen said one of the issues overlooked was that the fish would go to feed people in Africa who needed it.

``It is not a rich man's food. It is an oily, fishy tasting fish that is not appreciated by most Australian consumers,'' Mr Geen said. ``It is high in protein, something sorely needed in Africa.'' 

He also welcomed comments from federal Environment Minister Tony Burke who said that he was not concerned about the species targeted by the trawler, but by the potential by-catch of larger fish or dolphins.

Mr Burke is still awaiting advice on whether he has the power to intervene in the approval process.

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