Groups want action not closed-door negotiations on Super Trawler

Press release - 23 July, 2012

Environment groups have today rejected an offer from Federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig to enter into negotiations with Tasmanian company Seafish as the closed-door negotiations are an attempt to avoid rather than promote public debate on an issue of state and national importance.

The rejection of this process by conservation groups, including Environment Tasmania, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, WWF-Australia, Australian Marine Conservation Society, Greenpeace, Conservation Council of Western Australia, Ocean Planet Tasmania, Australian Conservation Foundation, Humane Society International and The Wilderness Society, came after they had repeatedly raised concerns with the Minister over the proposal to allow the world’s second largest super trawler to fish in Australian waters.
Spokesperson for Tasmanian Conservation Trust Jon Bryan said the Minister’s offer of closed door negotiations would not reduce community concerns about the introduction of this super trawler.
“Closed door negotiations are completely inappropriate.  It is the job of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to do these things properly and they must do them transparently and openly. How can the meeting be expected to do the job of fisheries management and solve in few weeks problems that the Government has not been able to fix over years,” Mr Bryan said.
Environment Tasmania’s Marine Coordinator Rebecca Hubbard said there is deep and widespread opposition to the introduction of this super trawler, reflected by over 22,000 signatures on an online petition, and ongoing rallies and events around Tasmania.
“Instead of backroom negotiations, the Minister must act immediately to address the concerns of the Australian public and conservation groups,” Ms Hubbard said. "This new process does not have any credibility, and seems to replicate processes that have failed in the past."
“We lack the safeguards to ensure that Australia can sustain a vessel of this size in our waters.  We do not want to suffer the same fate as other countries visited by this super trawler that were unprepared for the scale of its fishing operation.”
Notes to editors:
Ten environment organisations representing state, national and international concerns wrote to Minister Ludwig regarding the proposed introduction of the FV Margiris on 6 June and again on 4 July, followed by a meeting of representatives with the Minister in Sydney earlier this week.
The petition is hosted by the Australian organisation Community Run and can be viewed on this link:
For more information:
Rebecca Hubbard, Environment Tasmania: 0401 854 912
Jon Bryan, Tasmanian Conservation Trust: 0428 303 116
Tooni Mahto, Australian Marine Conservation Society: 0467 081 258
Elsa Evers, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Australia Pacific: 0438 204 041