Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Super trawler banned while expert assessment is carried out

Media release
19 November 2012

The super trawler FV Abel Tasman, (formerly FV Margiris), will not be able to operate in Australia's Small Pelagic Fishery following a decision by the Australian Government to prohibit large mid-water trawl freezer vessels from operating in this fishery under national environment law.

Environment Minister Tony Burke and Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig, have agreed that there is uncertainty about the environmental impacts of the operation of large mid water trawl freezer vessels in the Small Pelagic Fishery.

"In September the Australian Government made changes to national environment law which allow me to stop new types of commercial fishing activities in Commonwealth waters when there is uncertainty about their environmental impacts," Mr Burke said.

"Under the law I made an interim declaration on 20 September 2012 prohibiting this commercial fishing activity for 60 days.

"During this time I invited and considered written submissions from fishing businesses that would be impacted if I was to make a final declaration prohibiting their activity for up to two years.

"After considering the matters raised in the submissions, I am of the view that there is uncertainty about the environmental impacts of this type of fishing operation and it is appropriate to prohibit it while it is assessed by an expert panel.

"I have consulted the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Joe Ludwig, on this matter, as is required under national environmental law, and he agrees with me.

"Therefore, this commercial fishing activity will be prohibited for 24 months from midnight tonight while an expert panel undertakes an assessment.

"I will decide on the make-up of the panel and its terms of reference in consultation with the Fisheries Minister. My aim is to have the panel up and running in the coming weeks so it can begin this important task of assessing the environment impacts of this kind of fishing activity."