Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Super trawler stopped again

Media release
25 February 2013

Environment Minister, Tony Burke, has today signed the interim declaration to prevent the super trawler until the environmental impacts of the proposed operation are better understood.

This will stop the Abel Tasman (previously FV Margiris) from operating as a freezing and processing vessel supplied with fish by other vessels in the Small Pelagic Fishery.

“I have signed the interim declaration that will prevent, for an initial period of 60 days, the Abel Tasman processing fish caught by other vessels in the Small Pelagic Fishery,” Mr Burke said.

“During this time affected businesses have a natural justice opportunity to respond before I make a decision on whether there should be a ban for up to two years.

“In 2012 I stopped the super trawler from operating in the Small Pelagic Fishery for a period of 24 months to enable an independent assessment of the environmental impacts, particularly on species protected by Australia’s national environment law.

“This government takes a highly cautious view when it comes to protecting the ocean. We take ocean protection seriously.

“Recently the operators of the Abel Tasman submitted a new proposal to use the trawler as a processing vessel that is supplied with small pelagic fish by other smaller fishing vessels operating in the Small Pelagic Fishery.

“The Federal Fisheries Minister, Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig, and I have agreed that the proposal is a new commercial fishing activity and that there is uncertainty about its environmental impact. We have also agreed that it is appropriate to prohibit the operation for 60 days whilst consultation with affected parties about the effect of making a final declaration takes place.

“I have made an interim declaration that a commercial fishing activity which is a fish processing activity or uses the mid-water trawl method to catch quota species in the Small Pelagic Fishery by a vessel that has storage capacity of over 1600 tonnes is a declared fishing activity.

“Those parties affected by the interim declaration will have an opportunity to provide a written submission about the impact on their rights or interests in relation to fishing and other matters if a final declaration was to be made in relation to the declared commercial fishing activity.

“Once I have considered the information provided during the interim declaration consultation process, I will discuss with Senator Ludwig what environmental impacts these activities are likely to have.

“Should we agree that there is uncertainty regarding their environmental impacts, I reserve the right to decide it is appropriate to make a final declaration which prohibits these activities for up to two years.”

Further information is available at www.environment.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/commonwealth/pelagics.

ENDS