Baillieu bans super trawler from Victorian waters

SUPER trawlers will be prevented from operating in Victorian waters under a Baillieu government ban designed to protect the state's recreational and commercial fishing interests.

Days after the federal government rushed through laws designed to stop the controversial Abel Tasman super trawler from fishing in Commonwealth waters, Victoria has moved to impose its own state-based prohibition.

The draft notice, to come into effect within weeks, means mid-water trawlers will be unable to operate within three nautical miles of the state's coastline.

The move comes as the Commonwealth Ombudsman revealed that the fisheries management committee that cleared the way for the super trawler to come to Australia had breached guidelines for the approval process.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority was found to have breached a section of the Fisheries Act when it allowed the Australian operator of the super trawler, the director of Seafish Tasmania, Gerry Green, to participate in meetings relating to the quota of fish that could be taken by the trawler.

''No less than the Commonwealth Ombudsman has agreed AFMA has acted unlawfully, and this should rule a line under the whole sorry super trawler saga and compel the Senate to kill the project forever [on] Monday,'' Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie said.

The Ombudsman will now investigate other matters that emerged during its examination of complaints made by Mr Wilkie on behalf of environment groups and recreational fishers over the past two months.

The senior assistant Ombudsman, Rodney Welsh, informed Mr Wilkie of his findings on Friday.

''Super trawlers stink but even worse is government agencies thinking they're above the law,'' Mr Wilkie said.

The Abel Tasman - formerly the Margiris - has effectively been banned from operating in Australian waters for two years while further scientific work is done to determine its environmental impact under legislation passed by the House of Representatives last week.

But the government has warned the ban will not take effect until the legislation has passed the Senate.

It is anticipated the Victorian government's draft notice to ban the super trawler, revealed yesterday by state Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh, will take effect ''within weeks''.

Mr Walsh said it was important to ensure Victorian waters were also protected from overfishing.

The Tasmanian Parliament passed a unanimous motion opposing the huge trawler several weeks ago, but New South Wales and Queensland have yet to do so.

Under Victorian fisheries law, the ban would apply for a minimum of 12 months, after which the government would consult with the industry about possible extensions. ''The draft notice would ban large mid-water trawlers from operating in waters within three nautical miles of the Victorian coastline, which fall under Victorian jurisdiction,'' Mr Walsh said.

''The proposed changes will not impact current commercial fishing operations or recreational activities in Victoria. The primary concern is to ensure large mid-water trawlers cannot operate in our state waters.''

Christopher Collins, executive director of VRFish - which represents the interests of recreational fishers - said he was consulting his members about the changes, but signalled it was likely to be supported.

''We're particularly concerned about the threat that a mid-water trawler would mean to Victoria's very valuable snapper fisheries,'' he said.

A spokesman for Seafish Tasmania did not return calls yesterday.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the party wanted to see the legislation passed by the Senate this week before Parliament rises for a fortnight.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop