A move by a Tasmanian fishing company to introduce a super trawler into Australia’s southern waters to target small pelagic fish has met with widespread opposition from both conservationists and recreational fishers.
At 142m long, a capacity of 9,500 tonnes and a 600m long net, the FV Margiris scoops up whole schools of fish to be frozen into blocks and exported to whoever will buy them.
This vessel, and the handful of other super trawlers in her class, have been implicated in the collapse of fisheries around the world.
Consequences of a super trawler working our southern waters would likely be localised collapses of small pelagic fish, with consequences for any other species that feed on these, and also increased bycatch of marine mammals. There is already a serious issue with the bycatch of dolphins and Australian sea lions off our southern coasts, and the introduction of this vessel can only make it worse.
The proponents claim that the escape devices built into the nets will allow marine mammals to escape, but other evidence suggests that these devices may also simply be allowing drowned animals to fall out during recovery of the nets. It is a risk we do not need to take.
Super trawlers are about the least sustainable way to take fish, except maybe for dynamiting of coral reefs. This low value, high risk, fishery has no place in Australian waters. We should not be involved in this type of fishing practice.
You can take action against the super trawler online here: http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/stop-giant-fishing-trawler-in-tasmania
I’d urge you to do it.
If you want to find out more, follow this link to an excellent blog on marine conservation issues “Sea the Change” by a WA scientist and conservationist – http://seathechange.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/the-supertrawler-problem/