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COMMERCIAL fishing company seeking to operate super trawlers in Australian waters, Seafish Tasmania, has received preliminary approval to fish a revised quota in a smaller ship.

The ABC reports Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, senator Richard Colbeck, has announced Seafish Tasmania's 95-metre ship Geelong Star will be eligible to fish once authorities have approved a vessel-management plan.

The plan aims to ensure minimal interaction with marine mammals and seabirds, but can not be finalised until the Fisheries Management Authority has inspected the boat.

Late last year the Federal Government banned super trawlers, ships longer than 130 metres.

That followed a temporary ban in 2012 to block Seafish Tasmania from using what was then the world's second-largest trawler, the MV Margiris - later renamed Abel Tasman, to fish an annual quota of 18,000 tonnes of jack mackerel and redbait from an area stretching from Western Australia to Queensland, past Tasmania.

Conservation and recreational fishing groups have had long-standing concerns about the impact of large commercial trawlers like the MV Margiris on fish stocks.

But Seafish Tasmania has maintained that quotas are set at sustainable levels.

Senator Colbeck said the Geelong Star's quota has been set at 16,566 tonnes for jack mackerel, redbait and blue mackerel for the 2014-15 fishing season.

But Nobby Clark from Game Fish Tasmania said he was nervous about the latest proposal.

"The questions that have been asked by our peak bodies have still not been answered around the series of effects of localised depletion and what these effects could possibly have on an ever-growing game fishing industry on the east coast of Australia," he said.

Mr Clark said he was anticipating a fresh wave of protests.

More at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-13/seafish-tasmania-given-approval-to-fish-quota-with-smaller-ship/6090392

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