Tasmanian Times


Super Trawler Still Trying to Fish In Spite of Massive Public Opposition and Ban


The Stop the Trawler alliance is outraged that Seafish Tasmania are still pushing for the super trawler Abel Tasman (formerly Margiris) to fish in Australian waters, despite massive public opposition and the related legislation to temporarily ban it.

“The company is proposing to address the outstanding issue of localised depletion with a “move on” clause that is not based on science and therefore may not work. The information is simply not there to show that large ecosystem impacts will not be caused by this super trawler fishing,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Environment Tasmania’s Marine Coordinator.

“Seafish and AFMA will not provide information to the public on where or when the ship will be operating, or how much fish they are catching. The public will not be able to find out what is going on with this fishing operation. The company’s proposals are not based on science and will not reduce concerns about localised depletion or the threat to dolphins and other marine life. Seafish Tasmania’s proposals do not address widely held concerns and nothing has really changed in the management of this fishery, so why would the Government overturn this temporary ban and allow them to fish, when there are such great risks to our fisheries and marine life?” said Tasmanian Conservation Trust’s Jon Bryan.

“We’re not comfortable with this super trawler fishing until we have up to date stock assessments. Seafish has no suggestion for how it will avoid taking sardines from the Great Australian Bight as bycatch and this is a critically valuable industry to Australia. This threatens an existing industry that is environmentally and economically valuable,” said Nobby Clark, Tuna Club of Tasmania President.

“The Australian public believe that the Government has listened to their concerns and banned the super trawler from fishing for two years – it would be a gross abuse of public trust if they now allowed the super trawler to go fishing, especially when such significant issues remain around localised depletion, robustness of the quotas, bycatch of threatened species, and whilst the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Inquiry is still under way,” said Ms Hubbard.

Rebecca Hubbard, Marine Coordinator, Environment Tasmania
Jon Bryan, Tasmanian Conservation Trust
Nobby Clark, President Tuna Club of Tasmania

Earlier on Tasmanian Times: Borthwick fisheries review integrity compromised?

First published: 2012-10-18 07:35 PM


Kim Booth MP
Greens Primary Industries Spokesperson
Friday, 19 October 2012

The Tasmanian Greens today warned of another huge community backlash if the Federal Environment Minister surrenders to the demands of SeaFish Tasmania and allows the super trawler to go fishing.

Greens Primary Industries spokesperson Kim Booth MP said Tony Burke would soon decide whether the super trawler should be allowed to operate now, before an expert panel makes a decision on a two year federal review of the EPBC Act.

“When Mr Burke announced this temporary ban, he made it clear that he had concerns about the methodology used by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to set the quota for the small pelagic fishery,” Mr Booth said.

“Placing a few extra conditions on the operation of the super trawler will not fix the poor data and flawed methodology that was behind the increase in the catch limit.”

“SeaFish Tasmania representatives have been haunting Ministers’ offices in Canberra over the past few weeks, and Federal Government officials have recently visited Tasmania to secretively consult with industry stakeholders.”

“Mr Burke needs to know that he would be making a huge mistake by capitulating to the demands of industry because the community aren’t stupid, and they are ready to rise up once again to defend the ocean from this marauder.”

The Minister’s interim declaration will expire on November 20.

• Tasmanian Association of Recreational Fishing Inc: Minister Burke must announce Final Declaration

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke must follow through with the undertakings he gave to Australia’s 5 million strong recreational fishing community and make the Final Declaration banning the Super Trawler FV Abel Tasman (Margiris).

What was announced by the proponent of the Super Trawler yesterday was put on the table for consideration in our discussions as part of federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig’s Working Group back in late July. The announced trigger limits and move on provisions were referred to the CSIRO representative, assigned to the Working Group, who indicated they could not give any scientific certainty whether the risks of local area depletion, particularly on the East Coast of Tasmania, would be addressed by the concepts proposed by the proponent.

To our knowledge no updated science has been undertaken since July therefore we see no justifiable reason why Minister Burke should delay in making the Final Declaration banning the Super Trawler whilst his publically announced Expert Panel further assesses the likely impacts of industrial scale fishing operations. Currently we have three separate, but related, processes being undertaken by government into the Super Trawler issue:

1) Minister Ludwig’s “Root and Branch,…first major review of Australia’s fisheries management system in two decades”

2) the Ombudsman’s review into the legitimacy of the processes surrounding the setting of the Total Allowable Catch for the Small Pelagic Fishery and

3) Minister Burke’s “Expert Panel to conduct an assessment of all the potential impacts of the FV Abel Tasman before it can be given approval to fish in Commonwealth waters”.
Until all of these processes have concluded and reported back to government can the recreational fishing community have any faith that their concerns about the potential impacts of the Super Trawler have been addressed.

TARFish is the independent, government recognised peak body looking after the interests of recreational marine fishers in Tasmania. www.tarfish.org

• Peter Whish-Wilson
Australian Senate Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania

media release
Friday, 19th October 2012

Greens Urge Minister Burke to Remain Strong on Super‐Trawler

The Australian Greens have called on Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to publicly reject Seafish Tasmania’s revised fishery plan for the super-trawler, the F.V. Margiris.

“Minister Burke made some very strong statements on the inadequacies around the system setting the quota, and scientific issues such as localised depletion – essentially reflecting the advice I received months ago,” Senator Peter Whish-Wilson stated.

The Minister’s interim declaration is due to expire on November 20.

“If Minister Burke fails to issue a final declaration, Margiris could put to sea anytime after that date.

“Seafish’s offer is part of a concerted effort to circumvent legitimate concerns around the Australian Fisheries Management Authority process – not to mention the insurmountable weight of public opposition to this proposal.

“I implore Minister Burke to hold his nerve on this and issue a final declaration.

“People are already concerned following the revelation that the Borthwick Review had arrived in Hobart and planned to leave without talking to anti-trawler campaigners.

“The Review only contacted those stakeholders after I raised the issue in Senate estimates, which doesn’t fill me with confidence.

“Why didn’t it occur to the Borthwick Review to seek input from both sides of this discussion? How could they gain a full understanding through only talking to one side of the debate?

“This goes to show that the fight is far from over.”

• Monday on Tasmanian Times: Borthwick fisheries review integrity compromised?

• Download recreational fisher Keith Antonysen’s submission to DAFF and Tony Burke. Keith says DAFF has acknowledged his submission but he has received no acknowledgement from Tony Burke’s department: Here

• Matthew Denholm, The Australian: Trawler ban may cost taxpayers millions

TAXPAYERS may be exposed to millions of dollars in compensation as a result of the Gillard government’s decision to ban the Abel Tasman super-trawler for two years.

Seafish Tasmania, the proponent of the 143m-long ship, has legal advice that suggests it has a good case to overturn the federal ban – imposed by federal Environment Minister Tony Burke last month – on the grounds of procedural unfairness.

Any such successful case would open up taxpayers to liability for compensation, believed to range up to $10 million.

This would be based on costs incurred by Seafish and its Dutch joint venture partners, Parlevliet & Van der Plas, in developing the operation.

These include bringing the freezer factory ship from Europe and not being able to fish since the ban was announced on September 11, with daily wharf fees still being incurred.

Seafish argues that, for seven years, it was given to understand by regulators and government that there was no barrier to the use of factory ships in the small pelagic fishery.

Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig said the government was not fully aware of the Seafish’s plans before May this year. “The 143m length and nature of the vessel was not made clear to AFMA until at least May 2012, and my office was not made aware until June,” Senator Ludwig said.

However, emeritus professor in fisheries management at the University of Canberra, Bob Kearney, said the decision to ban the trawler ignored the view of all credible fisheries scientists that AFMA’s quota and management regime were soundly based.

Matthew Denholm’s full story here

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Russ G

    October 23, 2012 at 12:06 am

    You make a statement about the Sardine Fishers not opposing the trawler and I post a link to an article including a press release from this group on the topic and away you go on a rant about media reporting, science and emotion ….

    The Sardine Fishers had a long look at the issue, researched and discussed it and made due representations to the Governments – State & Federal.

  2. mikey

    October 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks for that Russ #10, but you’d really have to do better than that. One press release 6 weeks ago. Four Corners has just spent some time in Port Lincoln about 100 metres from the sardine fleet and not a single word. I’d like to point you to some links to information from our fishery scientists but I’m sure you’ve read them already, why don’t you respond to the science.
    The reason behind the desparate calls for a final declaration is the opponents are worried that science will win over emotion. What’s the big hurry if they think their position is sound.

  3. Bazzabee

    October 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    #14 Firstly, I note your qualified apology but as it comes with a cost to my right to free speech I find myself unable to accept it.

    So No I won’t be “retard[ing] my dagger thrusts “towards the well intentioned Kim Booth” or anyone else for that matter that I find myself in disagreement or want to challenge. Anymore than I would expect you to desist from your personal attacks on the ALP leadership because as I know from personal experience many of them are extremely well intentioned they are also frequently wrong like Mr Booth and his party are frequently wrong.

    As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux wrote, “L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs” (hell is full of good wishes and desires) or to put in another way ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. But good intentions are not sufficient cause for me to self censor even if it does mean my receiving your unqualified apology.

  4. William Boeder

    October 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    #13. bazzabeee, thank you for your response I now feel that you are a far better person than my comment at #11 did offer.
    I will offer you an apology based on the premise that you retard your dagger thrusts toward the well intended Kim Booth and a few of the other non-anti-the-citizens Greens ministers, for they are not the cause of the many dilemmas cast upon the State of Tasmania nor upon its people.

    If each and all were to carefully determine the source of this State’s ailing governance then to let loose their daggers all the better for the Tasmania citizens.

    Inevitably I turn my comment toward the regulars in our State who are famous for their effortless mis-handlings of the truth and those very same who engage in the art of hypnotics, yes it is those each and all at the helm of this State’s biggest painful blister and upon its people, the manipulative logging recalcitrant’s and their supportive rabble of ministers both Lib and Lab.

    Were more effort and more of the Lib/Lab limited grouped intellect that may be held by among these logging loving ministers, then this energy and emphasis turned toward full on support to speed up the transition into aiding the reincarnation of the clean green image and its associated food production, then maybe the better for all the Tasmania people.

  5. Bazzabee

    October 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    #11 Firstly let me begin by stating my contribution to this thread was I admit tangential it was not about fishing, trawlers big or small, bicatch or rape of the oceans. My contribution was about the overblown statements some might say threats made by Kim Booth.

    Having said that if you misread or chose to misunderstand what I wrote well that’s not my problem.

    But I do ask you by what authority were you provided with the right to speak on behalf of the Tasmanian people or was your hyperbole yet another example of your own hubris?

    If you had read my comments carefully which did not do they were a warning about going too far and not taking the majority with you nothing more and nothing less.

    In case you missed it I made the point that the Greens are an important part of the political process but that importance in my opinion is at times overblown by some Green politicians.

    I went so far as to suggest that the Greens were due to increasing extremism being deserted, by ” some who would want to be your friends” again you missed my point or was it that you chose to miss it? Recent election results support my opinion. Your beloved party is losing support this I believe is due to the refusal to compromise and an unwillingness to work with and for the majority. Leadership Yes. Bullying and hectoring No. The Greens provide too much of the latter and not enough of the former resulting in a collapse of support at the ballot box.

    You may also cast your mind back to your previous pointless attempts to insult me (because I have from time to time had the audacity to suggest that the Greens don’t always have the answers to all the worlds and in particular Tasmania’s problems).

    You have in the past suggested in a paranoid fashion that because I don’t march to the Green drum beat that I must automatically march in time to the beat of another drum that is the one beaten by the Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz clearly you don’t read all my posts or if you do you either fail to understand them or prefer to willfully misread and misinterpret what I say.

    Here is a clear and unequivocal statement: I find the utterances, statements, policies and beliefs of Senator Eric Abetz to be almost with fail repugnant, prejudiced and diametrically opposite to my own deeply held beliefs.

    I hope that was that clear enough? Because if it isn’t I fear that any further comments or observations from me will be a complete and utter waste of my time.

  6. John Biggs

    October 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I was very sorry to see Matthew Denholm’s one-sided reporting on this. He’d done a great job during the Lennon years but here he has simply taken up and promoted the Seafish cause, blaming Burke for caving in to a social media splurge instigated by a minority group of recreational fishermen and of course those terrible Greens. That is misrepresenting the issue. I would have thought the real issues here are AMFA’s dubious role, outed by Andrew Wilkie and the Ombudsman, and why the government did not act before Seafish left Europe.

  7. William Boeder

    October 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Hello there bazzabee, I see you are doing your utmost to go against the will of the Tasmanian people, why is this so?
    I have noted in quite a number of your comments, you seem to be a disgruntled person with a detestable view toward your fellow man and all of life’s many varieties of creatures?
    I am wondering if you are part of the jack-boot anti-the-Greens Erich Abetz cheer-squad, as your comments appear to be much like those expressed by Abetz during his many media appearances and interviews?
    It would come as no surprise that this sort of invading marauding ocean resource stripping exercise would meet with your approval which seems to follow the line taken by the above Senator with his falsly pledged support toward the people of Tasmania.

  8. Russ G

    October 20, 2012 at 6:32 pm

  9. Bazzabee

    October 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Once again Mr Booth and the Greens threaten a backlash if they don’t get their own-way. Yet all across the country in State and Territory elections people are sending a clear message to the Greens and that is enough is enough. You are a small voice a small player, albeit an important one, in Australian politics but your bullying and refusal to compromise makes enemies of some who would want to be your friends.

    Last night saw the Greens vote slashed in the ACT election. The ACT Greens were a group who by Tasmanian Green standards were hard working fair, reasonable even willing to compromise. But they have been punished even loosing votes to the Liberals.

    No Mr Booth both yours and Tasmanian colleagues uncompromising bullying days are now well and truly numbered. It is you and your party who are about to see a backlash a voter backlash. And if last night’s ACT election is anything to go by Hare Clark system won’t save you next time around.

  10. TGC

    October 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Looks like all out revolution- that should take our mind off the economy.

  11. john hayward

    October 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    An agonising decision for a hungry politician.

    First was the very attractive offers that appreciative extractive industries make to pollies who nod to the regulators. Then the threat from the public owners of the resource.

    It’s an apples and oranges choice for someone whose moral compass is cactus.

    John Hayward

  12. Anne

    October 19, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Once again it’s the Greens that are exposing this abuse of public trust in the democratic process. It seems to me that the Greens are the only effective political opposition we have, so thank goodness for them. It’s monstrous that Seafish are able to operate in Australian waters given the two year ban placed on this bloated boat, and how is anyone going to monitor the claims it will only fill up its freezer to the half way mark. Do Gerry Geen and Tony Burke really think Australians are that stupid? They’re in for a serious shock if they do.

  13. mikey

    October 19, 2012 at 5:08 am

    SA sardine fishermen don’t seem to be voicing much opposition to the trawler.Maybe they thought they’d let Nobby Clark look after their interests.

  14. Jon Sumby

    October 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Four Corners is running a story on the supertrawler this Monday 22 Oct at 8:30 pm ABC1 (repeated Tuesday night 11:35)

    See: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/10/18/3613408.htm

  15. Disgusted

    October 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Greedy controlling corporations and corruption of gov’t ministers…Works almost every time. The trouble is that while the majority of ministers are made of this stuff, Nothing will change unfortunately.

  16. John Edwards

    October 18, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Seafish Tasmania’s new proposed undertaking in no way alleviates the recreational fishers concerns, the issues remain the same, it is dressing a wolf up in a sheep’s clothing.
    The move on provision they propose is not science based and in fact could increase the likelihood of localised depletion.
    The questionable science in determining the Total Allowable Catch of Small Pelagic Species is also not addressed. It is a cart before the horse proposal they put up where the fishing proponent funds additional science to be done while they go ahead with a potentially unsustainable harvest. That is ridiculous and one with questionable impartiality.
    The recreational fishing groups faith in the federal government has just started to be restored. That follows a common sense approach where they have promised to do a detailed scientific review before a vessel of this kind is allowed to fish. Any allowance by Ministers Tony Burke and Joe Ludwig of a circumnavigation of that undertaking would see a complete loss of all credibility in the recreational fishers eyes.

  17. Keith Antonysen

    October 18, 2012 at 10:15 am

    By suggesting the Margiris can begin fishing prior to any proper scientific,economic,marine environmental studies,proper knowledge of spf biomass, etc,etc; is beyond belief.

    An example of research which needs to be completed has been indicated by TARFish, Tasmania’s peak angling body with the help of CSIRO. They have posited the view that there are resident small pelagic fish which are resident off the East Coast of Tasmania; these fish remain quite confined to a particular marine area. Professor Jessica Meeuwig has expressed a view that not a lot is known about the movements of adult small pelagic fish, she suggests “there is increasing evidence that the adults of many species are not as mobile as previously thought.”


    Hence should this be true, there is no knowing when a population of small pelagic fish will reform over time or whether they are lost forever. The case of a specific East Coast Tasmanian jack mackerel stock which is unique to this area with an unknown stock size, indicates an urgent need for some scientific investigation. This would provide us with research on the stock size and migration patterns to hopefully protect this unique local stock from any overfishing and possible elimination.

    The use of the precautionary principle and an understanding of environmental impacts must be employed, these being key AFMA principles. No trawling by the Margiris should occur until these and many other matters have been dealt with.

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