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Super Trawler Getting The Sack

  • September 11th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

margiris-2.jpgThe Australian government this week announced plans to give itself legal power to prevent the big fishing trawler, until now called Margiris, from operating around Australia for at least two years.

A bill giving effect to the decision was passed in the House of Representatives, 13.9.12, with Greens party support giving it assured passage in the Senate.
See EUAustralia Online, “Super trawler for Australia: An EU-African problem moves south”, 24.8.12.


The Environment Minister, Tony Burke, told federal parliament in Canberra, 11.9.12, the ability of the ship to stay at sea for long periods in one part of the ocean would have unknown effects on the ecosystem.

The new legislation would empower the government to impose a two-year ban on its operations while further knowledge was sought about possible impacts.

Earlier the Minister had said that his powers were limited, as the vessel would service a legal quota of 18000 tonnes of Jack Mackerel and Redbait, devised through scientific processes.

He tightened controls, such as a requirement that the trawler must stop fishing and move on if taking multiple dolphins or seals as by-catch – regulated by on-board inspectors.

It did not allay the din of protest among the Australian public, including a revolt among MPs from the governing Labor Party; bringing on the decision to legislate.


The company behind the operation, Seafish Tasmania, an Australian firm with Dutch connections, has had the trawler tied up in Port Lincoln, South Australia, awaiting re-registration.

It has already changed the ship’s name to Abel Tasman, commemorating the 17th century navigator, but says it is now laying off 50 staff, and is consulting its options.

It has wide support among informed opinion, of fishing regulators and marine scientists, for its argument that all government requirements were met during a seven-year lead-up period, and that valid science was applied to obtaining its quota.


margiris-livingoceannet.jpgOpponents, including the conservation movement and amateur fishing groups, say that the big trawler, registered in Lithuania, had heavy impacts on fisheries when operating off the West African coast.

The Abel Tasman, at 142 metres and 9499 tonnes, is in the class of “floating factories” in the European fleet, the subject of many protests; see EUAustralia Online, “Alarm over fish stocks”, 30.4.11.

The projected haul of 18000-tonnes from Australian waters is to be sold in West Africa.


Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra, home., (24.8.12).