Not So Super Trawler Banned in Australia After Public Protest

The ship will be off-duty until government officials can assess its impact on marine life.
Super trawlers like this one decimate fish populations, in addition to other sea creatures that get caught in their nets. (Photo: Greenpeace Australia)
Sep 16, 2012· 1 MIN READ

“If the law falls short, change the law,” said Australian Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, just days before passing legislation that banned a controversial super trawler from pillaging Australian waters.

The bill bans the Dutch-owned trawl-fishing vessel until further scientific assessment can determine its sustainability and environmental impact, Greenpeace Australia reports.

The legislation, should it pass the Senate, will allow Burke the jurisdiction to scuttle all trawl-fishing vessels until a panel has assessed their impact on the environment.

The vessel, newly named the Abel Tasman, is a 465-foot long floating factory farm that would have fished up to 18,000 tons of critical bait fish in Tasmania and parts of Queensland. It received international attention following intensive opposition from Greenpeace Australia, Environment Tasmania and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Respected conservationists said they believed the Abel Tasman would jeopardize carefully structured marine ecosystems in Australia while endangering a plethora of other important marine species.

Formerly known as the FV Margiris, the trawler was unanimously banned in Senegal after it destroyed the West African country’s important eco-system. The vessel is also responsible for the plundering of fish stocks in parts of Europe, greater Africa and the South Pacific.

Trawl-fishing vessels like the Abel Tasman are notorious for intensive by-catch killing, which entangles creatures such as turtles, seals, and dolphins, killing them and spitting them back into the sea.

MORE: Ocean Killer: This ‘Super Trawler’ is a 465-Foot Floating Factory Farm

Protest groups comprised of activists and fishermen alike complained the vessel would not only upset stressed fish stocks, but would also put local businesses dependent upon sea-catch fishing out of work indefinitely.

Looking forward, advocacy against global overfishing has the most significant impact on the enactment of policy to protect vulnerable marine life.

To help secure a positive future for global fish stocks, visit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Greenpeace Australia.

Are you taking any steps to make sure your fish doesn't come at the expense of other marine life? Let us know in the Comments.

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Elissa Sursara is an Australian environmental conservationist, filmmaker and wildlife expert working on behalf of endangered species, threatened habitats and animals in crisis. She is a celebrity ambassador for the WWF, Earth Hour and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. @ElissaSursara