The biggest vessel to fish Australian waters is expected to start trawling within a fortnight and fisheries off WA could be its first target.
The Dutch-owned MV Margiris has been surveyed, reflagged as an Australian vessel and renamed the Abel Tasman as it prepares for final clearance from Federal authorities to begin trawling.
The 142m ship is docked at Port Lincoln, South Australia, and will begin fishing for up to 18,000 tonnes of baitfish in the Great Australian Bight.
Opposition to the super trawler is growing, with the South Australian Government the latest to call for the vessel to be barred from Australian waters.
It cites fears it will destroy the sardine fishery and take an unacceptable amount of by-catch.
WA Fisheries Minister Norman Moore is concerned that the trawler will affect fish stocks and has written to Federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig requesting an assurance that WA fisheries will be safe.
Fremantle MHR Melissa Parke is attempting to get a private member's Bill before Parliament banning super trawlers from Commonwealth waters.
"Our oceans and fisheries are both too precious and too fragile to be subject to the Godzillas of the fishing world in the form of super trawlers," she said yesterday.
Conservationists and recreational fishers have joined forces to oppose the vessel and argue the science used to allocate the ship its quota is questionable.
Environment Minister Tony Burke has announced a series of conditions designed to limit the impact of the trawler on threatened species, including dolphins, seals and sea lions, that could get caught in its 300m-long nets and drown.
Director of the University of WA's Centre for Marine Futures Jessica Meeuwig said the conditions did nothing to protect fish stocks and the science supporting the large quota was "weak".Gerry Green, director of Seafish Tasmania, the company bringing the super trawler to Australia, said some matters needed to be finalised before the vessel took to sea.
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