TENSIONS ran high in Devonport yesterday with about 500 people attending a rally against the proposed super trawler Margiris.
The ``Turn Back the Super Trawler public forum'' organised by the Tasmanian Greens heard from a panel of fishing industry and Greens party spokesmen.
``Our office has been bombarded with concerns about the super trawler coming along to vacuum up all our fish,'' Braddon Greens MHA Paul O'Halloran said.
``We know the giant trawler has already left Europe without being granted a permit to fish in Australia. We know in 1990 the jack mackerel stocks were about 30 million tonnes and now they're about three million tonnes.
``We know the consequences of unsustainable fishing are more effort for less fish, boats have to be bigger and catch limits are doubled to allow the super trawler.''
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust's Jon Bryan spoke of the importance of baitfish in the marine ecosystem.
``Fisheries don't have the scientific data to determine if and when stocks will recover,'' Mr Bryan said.
``This is a huge ship. It makes every other ship in Australian waters look like a bath toy.''
Mr Bryan said the 143-metre-long super trawler would cost a considerable amount to run and would stay close to its proposed Devonport base to fish for as much of its 18,000- tonne quota as possible.
Following the forum, Seafish Tasmania director Gerry Geen denied that the Margiris would fish for the quota close to Devonport.
``The fish we're fishing for don't call Devonport home for a start, they move around a lot, which is the whole point of being able to move around with the different seasons at different times,'' Mr Geen said.
He said it was in the company's best interest to ensure that the venture was sustainable, and with quotas set at 10 per cent of fish stock levels in Australia the super trawler would have little impact on the ecosystem.