Giant super trawler headed our way
If only this was a headline for bad B-grade horror movie. Unfortunately it's not.
Right now a European super trawler is steaming its way towards Australia. This giant factory ship is 142 metres long, weighs 9499 tonnes and can process 250 tonnes of fish a day.
There is still time for us to keep this super trawler out of Australian our waters, but we need to act now.
What's going on?
A Tasmanian company called Seafish Tasmania is proposing a joint venture with the giant Dutch freezer trawler FV Margiris to catch more than 18,000 tonnes of small bait fish fish (otherwise known as pelagic fish) off the coast of Australia.
These bait fish are vital to our marine ecosystems and are food sources for important species like the critically endangered Southern Bluefin Tuna, marine mammals, seabirds and game fish.
Any fish caught by the super trawler within Australian waters will be frozen into 20kg blocks and sold to Nigeria for $1 a kilogram.
This low value will come at a high ecological cost.
Take action now: Tell Australia's fisheries minister Joe Ludwig and environment minister Tony Burke you don't want this factory trawler in Australian waters.
How can the Australian Government let this happen?
The commercial fishing industry has made big steps recently to move towards more sustainable practices, but the introduction of the super trawler FV Margiris would be a massive step backwards for both the industry and the Australian Government.
The super trawler has been allocated a catch quota by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority but the VNPA, other conservation groups and thousands of recreational fishermen across the country have major concerns about it including:
Localised depletion: Due to the size of the ship's nets, it can catch its quota (which includes blue mackerel, jack mackerel and redbait) in a small area.
Tasmania has seen this sort of fishing in the past. Twenty years ago trawling pressure was blamed for the depletion of local fish stocks, with a commercial redbait fishery failing just ten years ago.
If allowed to fish in Australian waters the FV Margiris will be allowed to operate anywhere from southern Queensland south and across to Western Australia to fulfill its 18,000 tonne quota.
Key species in the food chain: Bait fish are a critical food source for a number of predator species, including Bottlenose Dolphins, Australian Fur Seals and other marine animals, sea birds and larger fish such as Southern Bluefin Tuna and sharks.
Australian fisheries are managed species by species, with fishing quotas based on stock sizes. What isn't taken into consideration when defining maximum catch quotas is the role each species plays within the wider marine ecosystem.
By-catch: The huge nets the super trawler uses threaten 'non-target' marine life including other fish, dolphins, seals and seabirds. There are some systems in place to attempt to minimise this, but the reliability of these measures is questionable.
Stock assessments and fisheries management issues: The fish stock quota allocated to FV Margiris is based on limited stock assessment sampling over a one or two year period. Sampling is too old to ensure accurate estimates of fish numbers or how populations of these fish change over time.
Due to the poor track record of small pelagic fisheries around the world (and the historic failure of two pelagic fisheries in Tasmania) it's a matter of urgency these assessments are updated.
It's vitally important that Australia (and Tasmania's) fishing industries operate within quotas that do not risk the fish population or broader marine ecosystem.
Help stop the super trawler now!
Federal ministers for the environment and fisheries have the power to stop the super trawler and prevent industrial-scale fishing within Commonwealth marine waters.
Across Australia, people are raising their voice in opposition to this super trawler coming anywhere near Australian waters, but the clock is ticking. FV Margiris is due in Tasmania within three weeks.
Your help is urgently needed now! Join the thousands of Australians campaigning against the super trawler and send a loud and clear message to fisheries minister Joe Ludwig and environment minister Tony Burke. Email them now!
To find out more about the Super Trawler and the national campaign to stop it visit stopthetrawler.net