Seafish, the company that bought Australia the proposal for the MV Margiris super trawler, has decided not to give up despite angering and outraging tens of thousands of Australians with their proposal to bring heavy industrial fishing to Australia’s low productivity southern waters using a vessel that has plundered far more resilient fisheries around the world.
The proposal is called ‘transshipment at sea’.
It means this time they’re applying to bring a super trawler in as a floating freezer,
but do the fishing with a small fleet of midwater trawl and purse seine fishing vessels.
It’s not clear how a giant freezer ship with smaller trawlers busily buzzing all around it is any better than a super trawler, and in fact it is not. And besides, none of the issues about localised depletion or threats to protected marine species have yet been addressed. The two year super trawler review promised in response to mass public concern has hardly even begun.
Happy Squid comment to AFMA below.
Transshipment at sea gives rise to the same concerns as the orginal super trawler proposal for the small pelagic fishery.
Localised depletions will remain a serious concern because the presence of the freezer ship supported by a fleet of smaller midwater trawl and purse seine net vessels operating in a small area has the same capacity to reduce local stocks as the super trawler. Still no research has been done on how interlinked stocks in the small pelagic fishery are between regions, and hence the ability of local stocks to recover after localized depletion. Enduring localized depletions of small pelagic fish off Tasmania and in other jurisdictions suggest that caution is warranted. The consequences of localized depletion for higher order predators and marine mammals have also not been investigated.
Concerns about bycatch of protected species remain with this proposal. A number of small vessels operating in a concentrated area will likely have a similar impact to a super trawler with one large net. Both purse seine and midwater trawl nets pose well documented risks to marine mammals.
Any approval of transshipment at sea would also undermine the 2 year review of super trawlers and the small pelagic fishery, and the root-and-branch review of the Fisheries Act, that have been set up in response to broad public concern.
The proposal for transshipment at sea in the small pelagic fishery raises serious concerns for fishery sustainability and the environment, and at this time risks further damaging the reputation of Australia’s fishing industry in the general public.