FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke hopes to today begin using new powers under environmental law to stop super trawler Abel Tasman from fishing in Australian waters while scientific work is undertaken.
While the vessel's operator, Seafish Tasmania, has vowed to pursue all legal options, a constitutional law expert says it is unlikely that the company would succeed.
Professor George Williams, of the University of New South Wales, said Federal Parliament had the power to change the rules when it comes to permissible fishing.
``Unfairness or discriminatory treatment by itself does not give rise to a right to compensation,'' he said.
``The government could choose to make a discretionary payment because of these reasons, but that is a political rather than legal decision on their part.''
Seafish Tasmania director Gerry Geen said the company had progressed the venture in good faith, followed all regulations and informed the government on a number of occasions of its intentions to bring the super trawler to Australia.
Under the legislation passed by the Senate yesterday, Seafish Tasmania has a two-week period to respond to the government's decision.
An expert panel will be appointed to carry out scientific research into the potential impact that large-scale vessels such as the Abel Tasman could have on marine life.
``During that research period, an interim 24-month ban on the Abel Tasman is legally available,'' Mr Burke said.
Tasmanian Labor parliamentarians, MHR Julie Collins and Senators Carol Brown and Lin Thorp welcomed the passage of the legislation.
``We were pleased to gain the support of our caucus colleagues to ensure that there was a Government bill to stop the super trawler from fishing in Australian waters,'' Ms Collins said.
Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said his party was pleased that the legislation had passed but was disappointed it only gave a ``temporary reprieve for those who want to see the world's largest industrial scale fishing vessels permanently banned from operating in Australian waters''.