MORE than 50 Fremantle locals joined in a national demonstration to protest supertrawlers fishing in Australian waters.
This month the Geelong Star, a factory freezer trawler, arrived in Australia and within three days was approved to start fishing, despite persistent opposition from conservationists, recreational fishers, tourism organisations and the public.
Just days after the vessel commenced fishing it reported its nets had killed four dolphins and two seals, a result described by federal environment minister Greg Hunt as “completely and utterly unacceptable”.
Rebecca Hubbard, coordinator for Stop the Trawler Alliance, says the Abbott government is ignoring overwhelming opposition to industrial-scale fishing.
“Tasmanian senator Richard Colbeck (parliamentary secretary for agriculture) has welcomed the Geelong Star in to trawl Australian fisheries, when the fact of the matter is that there is still widespread opposition to these supertrawlers and the devastation they could cause,” she says.
Other protests were held in Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.
The Stop the Trawler Alliance consists of 25 fishing, environment and tourism groups.
Senator Colbeck says the trawler is 95m long, not the 130m that designates supertrawler status, and recent surveys of the small pelagic fishery prove the quota given to the vessel—3.5 per cent of the biomass—is sustainable.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK