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  1. #1
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    Australia : MV Abel Tasman

    Burke still gunning for super-trawler - The West Australian

    Super trawler action will cost jobs

    Nick Perry and Julian Drape
    September 11, 2012

    The federal government will stop a controversial super trawler from fishing in Australian waters for up to two years in a move that has delighted campaigners but will cost 50 jobs.

    The activities of 142-metre Abel Tasman will be suspended until an expert panel has investigated the potential environmental impacts of allowing it to trawl for mainly mackerel and red bait around the southern coastline.

    The government's sudden decision to legislate to extend the environment minister's powers to take such action comes after a public campaign led by environment groups, GetUP and Tasmania independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

    But not everyone is celebrating, with the federal opposition and fishing groups in Tasmania warning investment and jobs will be threatened.

    Environment Minister Tony Burke on Tuesday said the amendments to environmental protection laws, which have been introduced to parliament, would address public "uncertainty" and a "huge outcry" about the vessel, including from Labor MPs.

    "When the law falls short you change the law," he told parliament.

    Mr Burke rejected arguments the government had taken too long to act, saying a cautious approach was needed when dealing with ocean issues.

    But he agreed there had never been a fishing vessel of this capacity - it weighs 9500 tonnes and can carry 6200 metric tonnes of frozen fish - in Australia before, saying the fact it can remain in one location for a long time raised "significant environmental issues".

    Abel Tasman operator Seafish Tasmania said it was "extremely disappointed" the Labor government had pursued the legislative avenue without considering the impact on jobs.

    Seafish director Gerry Geen said 50 jobs, including 45 in Devonport, Tasmania, would be lost.

    "It is going to be hard to tell these employees, some of them who were long term unemployed, that we no longer have a job for them," he said in a statement.

    Tasmanian Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck said the coalition wanted to examine the government's amendments.

    But he has already told his colleagues certainty of fishing rights was vital for businesses seeking finance from banks, and the government's decision would threaten their viability.

    Greenpeace described Mr Burke's announcement as a victory for community.

    "This is what happens when we all stand together," Greenpeace spokesman Ben Pearson said in a statement.

    But environment groups, and the Australian Greens, are now pushing for further measures to outlaw super trawlers entirely from Australian waters to safeguard fish stocks.

    Fisheries minister Joe Ludwig announced a major review of the Fisheries Management Act to ensure the 20-year old laws were in tune with community expectations.

    But Senator Ludwig, who previously angered cattle producers over changes to the live animal export industry, said he did not believe the change to the environment act would signal Australia was a risky investment option.

    "I'm confident that people will continue to invest in fisheries," he said.
    The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) recently stated it had found "no evidence" that larger fishing boats posed a higher risk to the marine environment.

    The Abel Tasman, previously known as the Margiris, is currently docked at Port Lincoln in South Australia.

  2. #2
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    Baillieu bans super trawler from Victorian waters
    September 16, 2012

    SUPER trawlers will be prevented from operating in Victorian waters under a Baillieu government ban designed to protect the state's recreational and commercial fishing interests.

    Days after the federal government rushed through laws designed to stop the controversial Abel Tasman super trawler from fishing in Commonwealth waters, Victoria has moved to impose its own state-based prohibition.

    The draft notice, to come into effect within weeks, means mid-water trawlers will be unable to operate within three nautical miles of the state's coastline.

    Victoria has moved to impose a state-based prohibition on super trawlers.

    The move comes as the Commonwealth Ombudsman revealed that the fisheries management committee that cleared the way for the super trawler to come to Australia had breached guidelines for the approval process.

    The Australian Fisheries Management Authority was found to have breached a section of the Fisheries Act when it allowed the Australian operator of the super trawler, the director of Seafish Tasmania, Gerry Green, to participate in meetings relating to the quota of fish that could be taken by the trawler.

    ''No less than the Commonwealth Ombudsman has agreed AFMA has acted unlawfully, and this should rule a line under the whole sorry super trawler saga and compel the Senate to kill the project forever [on] Monday,'' Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie said.

    The Ombudsman will now investigate other matters that emerged during its examination of complaints made by Mr Wilkie on behalf of environment groups and recreational fishers over the past two months.

    The senior assistant Ombudsman, Rodney Welsh, informed Mr Wilkie of his findings on Friday.

    ''Super trawlers stink but even worse is government agencies thinking they're above the law,'' Mr Wilkie said.

    The Abel Tasman - formerly the Margiris - has effectively been banned from operating in Australian waters for two years while further scientific work is done to determine its environmental impact under legislation passed by the House of Representatives last week.

    But the government has warned the ban will not take effect until the legislation has passed the Senate.

    It is anticipated the Victorian government's draft notice to ban the super trawler, revealed yesterday by state Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh, will take effect ''within weeks''.

    Mr Walsh said it was important to ensure Victorian waters were also protected from overfishing.

    The Tasmanian Parliament passed a unanimous motion opposing the huge trawler several weeks ago, but New South Wales and Queensland have yet to do so.

    Under Victorian fisheries law, the ban would apply for a minimum of 12 months, after which the government would consult with the industry about possible extensions. ''The draft notice would ban large mid-water trawlers from operating in waters within three nautical miles of the Victorian coastline, which fall under Victorian jurisdiction,'' Mr Walsh said.

    ''The proposed changes will not impact current commercial fishing operations or recreational activities in Victoria. The primary concern is to ensure large mid-water trawlers cannot operate in our state waters.''

    Christopher Collins, executive director of VRFish - which represents the interests of recreational fishers - said he was consulting his members about the changes, but signalled it was likely to be supported.

    ''We're particularly concerned about the threat that a mid-water trawler would mean to Victoria's very valuable snapper fisheries,'' he said.

    A spokesman for Seafish Tasmania did not return calls yesterday.

    Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the party wanted to see the legislation passed by the Senate this week before Parliament rises for a fortnight.

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    Trawler could become fishing mothership
    Jan. 21, 2013

    SEAFISH Tasmania has put a proposal to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) to use the Abel Tasman as a mothership for other fishing boats.

    The proposal would allow smaller boats to transfer fish onto the super trawler in a process called at-sea transhipment.

    Seafish Tasmania director Gerry Geen said the super trawler was still sitting in Port Lincoln "burning money", after it arrived here in late August last year.

    "This is about the Abel Tasman going fishing," he said.

    "We've been asked to not go fishing and we're going along with that.
    "We said we will leave the nets on the wharf and purchase the catches from other existing small Australian boats, freeze them and market them."

    Seafish Tasmania would not own the other boats loading fish onto the Abel Tasman, and they would fish their own or leased quotas, Mr Geen said.

    "It's not our first option, but we would like to make use of the vessel," he said.

    The proposal to allow the Abel Tasman to act as an at-sea transhipment vessel is now available to the public on AFMA's website.

    "As commonwealth fisheries are offshore and often remote from ports, at-sea transhipment allows another boat to process the fish quickly," the proposal says.

    "The quality of catch can deteriorate if it stays in the hold waiting for the boat to finish fishing and then travel back to port.

    "The carrier boat would not be using fishing nets at all."

    AFMA said it set catch limits for the fishery each year based on scientific advice and consultation.

    "These catch limits would not be affected by any decision to allow transhipment at sea."

    To see the proposal, visit AFMA's website at Australian Fisheries Management Authority

    The proposal will be open for comment until January 28 and comments can be submitted online or by email at

    The Abel Tasman was banned from fishing for two years by the federal government late last year.

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