WA recreational fishers alarmed at introduction of super trawler

Margiris, courtesy of the A.B.C
Carl Hyland
Recfishwest and the recreational fishing community of Western Australia are highly concerned over the impending arrival of the world’s second largest trawler into Australian waters.

Recreational fishing representatives this week met officials in Canberra and were given a briefing on the current science on the Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF), which the 142m FV Margiris proposes to target.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland expressed concern that the decision to allow entry of this vessel to Australian waters provides an unacceptably high level of risk.

'The fishing activities undertaken by this vessel pose significant threat to heavily depleting local stocks of important prey species, such as jack mackerel,' he said.

'These baitfish provide a food source for large predatory fish, and if removed in large numbers, could create a domino effect through the food chain.'

'Such intensive operations need to be backed by sound science. We are concerned that much of the science that underpins the effective management of this fishery is out-of-date and thus inappropriate for decision making.'

Dr Rowland went on to explain that the arrival of the FV Margiris has greatly concerned local recreational fishers.

Although this super trawler will be based in Tasmania, the area in which it is licenced to operate includes waters off the coast of Esperance, Albany and the Cape Leeuwin – Cape Naturalist region.

'It is clear to Recfishwest that the community find it unacceptable that the Commonwealth government can allow a ship the size of a suburban football oval to harvest thousands of tonnes of small pelagic finfish from WA waters.'

Recfishwest has demanded that the federal government justify this decision to WA coastal communities.

'They seem to have lost the plot in the management of our marine environment. We currently face a situation where recreational fishing families are confronted with being locked out through marine reserves, while a 142 meter super trawler is allowed to operate.'

'Neither of these decisions is based on sound science.'