Geelong Star suspended again for killing marine life
FOLLOWING a higher than expected level of albatross mortalities on the Geelong Star’s last fishing trip in the Small Pelagic Fishery, the vessel will not fish again until additional mitigation measures are agreed by Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) to minimise any further interactions.
This is not the first time the vessel has had restrictions imposed on it for killing marine life.
In 2015 the Geelong Star was banned from night fishing and had zone 6 of the management area, the same zone it has fished for the last month, closed after the by-catch deaths were revealed.
AFMA’s acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Nick Rayns said that AFMA would continue to work with the operator, Seafish Tasmania, and seabird experts until the Authority was satisfied that the additional measures would be effective.
“AFMA has investigated the likely cause of the albatross mortalities and is working with the vessel operator and seabird experts to minimise any future albatross interactions,” Dr Rayns said.
“AFMA must be satisfied with the additional mitigation measures before fishing can recommence.
“An AFMA observer and an electronic monitoring system will continue to monitor the vessel’s fishing operations, providing 24/7 monitoring coverage for the vessel.”
However, a spokesperson from the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said this should be the final straw for the trawler.
"Last year the Geelong Star killed dolphins, seals and sharks. Now the trawler is killing albatross. How many protected species is the Geelong Star going to be allowed to catch before it's stopped from fishing?” said AMCS Fisheries Campaigner Josh Coates.
"We have long held concerns regarding the operation of the Geelong Star and the impacts on bycatch species including dolphins, seals, sharks and seabirds, particularly albatross. This vessel has developed a shocking reputation already, coming into conflict with recreational fishers, and killing threatened species.
"With most albatross species considered threatened, and fisheries interactions being an acknowledged major threat, it is crucial that albatross are protected from fisheries impacts.
"The community has sent a clear message to the Australian Government that we don't want to see this form of fishing in our waters.
"Given the ongoing controversy and community opposition to this vessel's operations we can only hope that this is the last time it is unleashed in Australian waters.
“The Australian Government has a duty of responsibility to ensure fishing does not occur at the expense of our protected marine life,” he concluded.
More information about the management of the Small Pelagic Fishery can be found at afma.gov.au.