Australia

Supertrawlers have Aust 'in their sights'

The federal government's ban on super trawlers only includes boats more than 130 metres in length. (AAP)

A report from two environmental groups says Australia must protect local fisheries by broadening its supertrawler ban beyond just six boats.

Australia's ban on super-sized industrial fishing boats is far too narrow and places local fisheries under the threat, environmentalists say.

A report released on Tuesday by the Australian Marine Conservation Society and Save Our Marine Life says just six of the 76 super trawlers worldwide are banned from operating in Australian waters.

"These ships have the capacity to catch, process and store hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish using one of the most indiscriminate methods you could think of," SOML spokeswoman Adele Pedder said in a statement.

"Super trawlers are incompatible with everything we are striving for in our marine environment."

The federal government's ban on super trawlers only includes boats more than 130 metres in length (about the playing surface of Suncorp Stadium).

But the new report claims the 95-metre-long Geelong Star - a freezer-fitted vessel capable of holding 1000 tonnes of catch - is viewed globally as a super trawler and this should be the new minimum.

SOML campaigned to ban the Geelong Star when it controversially operated in Australia's southern waters in 2015 and 2016.

The deaths of 47 seals, 11 albatross and nine dolphins were linked to the first 18 months of its operations, according to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.

The report claims foreign fishing vessels are looking to Australia after given the effect of overfishing on fish stocks elsewhere.

"Australian waters are now in their sights," report author Chris Smyth said in a statement.

"Fishing regulations notionally prohibit the entry of foreign fishing vessels, but this has not stopped the approval of foreign super trawlers to fish in Australian waters."

Mr Smyth also called for a federal parliamentary inquiry into the threat of foreign fishing fleets and the adequacy of current regulations.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch