Barnaby Joyce not looking at increasing trawler ban

Barnaby Joyce

Barnaby Joyce

The federal government says it is not considering increasing the trawler ban in Australian waters, after the state government said it would introduce legislation to ban them from Tasmanian waters.

Primary Industries and Water Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced stricter laws banning trawlers and super trawlers from state waters last month.

However, Tasmanian waters only extended three nautical miles off the coastline, which was around five kilometres, and Liberal Lyons MHA Mark Shelton wrote to Deputy Premier Barnaby Joyce calling for a stricter ban on trawling in Australian waters.

Current federal laws allowed trawling vessels up to 130 metres long in Commonwealth waters.

A spokeswoman for Mr Joyce told the Sunday Examiner the federal government was not considering increasing the current ban to smaller vessels.

“The coalition government endeavours to balance protection of the environment and the sustainable management of fisheries and banned ‘super trawlers’ – defined as fishing vessels over 130 metres in length – from the Australian Fishing Zone in 2015,” she said.

“Management actions in Commonwealth fisheries are based on the best available fisheries science and expert advice.”

Mr Shelton said he wrote to relevant federal ministers, including Mr Joyce, in the lead up to the state government’s announcement that it would strengthen the laws governing trawling in Tasmanian waters.

"Super trawlers are a threat to Tasmania's fisheries and to our recreational lifestyle, and I am committed to seeing the back of them.”

The state government’s move came after years of controversy, where an unlikely alliance of environmentalists and recreational fishers rallied against super trawlers fishing in and near state waters.

The state legislation would involve an amendment to the Living Marine Resource Management Act 1995, putting the ban on all trawling in state waters into primary legislation. It would then take an act of parliament to reverse it.

“At the present time, super trawling and trawling is banned by regulation,” Mr Rockliff said.

“We’re strengthening that ban through its own legislation and so, for that to be reversed to allow trawling in our state, it would have to be through an act of parliament, and this is a very big barrier to ever bringing back trawling and super trawling in Tasmanian waters.”

Mr Rockliff said recreational fishers were extremely concerned abut the potential impact trawlers could have on the small pelagic fishery and depletion of local fish stocks.

“One in four Tasmanians enjoy recreational fishing every year, and are spending at least $1000, according to that recent survey.”

The legislation will be introduced to the Tasmanian parliament this year.