Public rallies against super trawler at protest forum

AROUND 400 people attended a protest rally in Tasmania over the weekend to oppose plans for the super trawler FV Margis to be based in Tasmania and fish Commonwealth waters.

The 142m ship, expected to be brought into Australia next month by Seafish Tasmania, has a quota to catch 18,000 tonnes of redbait and jack (slimy) mackerel. A public meeting held in Devonport yesterday heard opposition from fishing, environmental and tourism groups who voiced concerns that the ship will decimate local fish stocks.

Labor's Sid Sidebottom told ABC Local Radio the community has a lot of concerns, and there needs to be a calm and rational discussion.

"That's why I've arranged a meeting between AFMA (Australian Fisheries Management Authority) officials and some of the representatives that were there yesterday," he said.

"But also to get the representatives to meet with the proponent as well because every proponent's got to put forward a management plan. It isn't just carte blanche."

At the forum, spokesman for recreational fishers, Mark Nikolai, said the ship could decimate local fish stocks.

"They can take out potentially a significant amount of the local feed stock out of the marine environment," he said.

Jon Bryan from the Tasmanian Conservation Trust says public concern is growing.

"I think people are just starting to realise what threat this ship poses to our marine environment and fish stocks," the ABC reported.

Seafish Tasmania Director Gerry Geen said he was not invited to yesterday's meeting, and there has been a lot of scaremongering over the trawler.

"The Seafish Tasmania quota represents less than 5 per cent of the amount of fish that's estimated to be out there, so 95 per cent of the fish is being left untouched to meet the needs of the ecosystem," he told the ABC.

For an ABC television news report on the Tasmanian forum go to: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-09/fight-against-super-tralwer-heats-up/4118374

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