AFMA Continues to Shield Super Trawler From Community Consultation

Conservation and recreational fishing groups are outraged by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s latest ploy to shield the Small Pelagic Fishery, in which the super trawler Geelong Star operates, from genuine community consultation, by holding a three-week public consultation period over the Christmas holidays.

“AFMA’s approach to community engagement in Australia’s most controversial fishery where the super trawler Geelong Star is operating is unacceptable. They have distributed important scientific and economic information on Christmas eve and provided just three weeks to respond,” said Rebecca Hubbard of Environment Tasmania. “This is a clear strategy to eliminate community engagement in the big decisions affecting this fishery and the super trawler’s operations.”

“Since the debacle of the super trawler Margiris, AFMA promised greater transparency in their management of this fishery, and yet consultation has only gotten worse. An email inviting feedback on Christmas eve shows that AFMA doesn’t accept recreational fishers as an important and genuine stakeholder in this fishery, and they are intent on limiting our ability to engage effectively in it’s management,” said Nobby Clark of the Tasmanian Game Fish Sports Fishing Club.

“To demonstrate this, AFMA and industry have been saying the super trawler will operate in the whole Small Pelagic Fishery that stretches across the country, so why on earth is the super trawler focusing on one of Australia’s most iconic gamefishing areas off Bermagui during the peak fishing season?” said Mr Clark.

"They’re hiding statutory consultation over the christmas holidays when the community is most distracted, just like they’re hiding their impacts on dolphins by fishing in the dark. Just like they’re hiding their vessel’s location from the public. No other Australian fishery has avoided accountability in the way the Geelong Star has been able,” said Josh Coates of the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

“AFMA’s unbelievably poor stakeholder engagement will only serve to stoke the fires of super trawler opposition from recreational fishers, conservation groups and coastal communities who are sick of the secrecy and industry protection in the Small Pelagic Fishery. Our tourism industries, fishing and marine life remain at risk in regional areas like the NSW south coast and Tasmania’s east, until all super trawlers are banned from this fishery,” concluded Ms Hubbard.

More information or interview:
Nobby Clark, Tasmanian Game Fish Sports Fishing Club 0438 394 124
Rebecca Hubbard, Environment Tasmania 0401 854 912
Josh Coates, Australian Marine Conservation Society 0438 805 284

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