There has been considerable community concern about the potential operation of large fishing vessels (or super trawlers) in Australian waters. The Labor Government has taken a range of steps to address these concerns.
In 2012, the Government introduced urgent legislation into the Australian Parliament to prevent vessels, like the FV Abel Tasman, from fishing while further scientific assessments are undertaken. These powers allowed for the Minister for the Environment to work with the Minister for Fisheries to establish and work with an expert panel to conduct assessments of all of the potential impacts before super trawlers can be given approval to fish in Commonwealth waters.
These legislative amendments will provide the community and the industry with a process to establish the high level of certainty that is needed for vessels of this nature to operate in Australian waters.
The community needs to be assured that the controls put in place are reflective of the expectations of the community and the expert panel will be able to assess the science to answer those important questions.
Separate to legislative changes under environmental legislation, the Minister for Fisheries also announced a major review into Australia’s fisheries management. The review was the first of its kind in twenty years and was a root and branch assessment of what changes may be required to maintain our fisheries’ world leading status. A copy of the report, Review of Commonwealth Fisheries: Legislation, Policy and Management, may be found at: http://www.daff.gov.au/fisheries/review-of-fisheries-management-act-1991-and-fisheries-administration-act-1991 as can further information about the review.
Australian fisheries are sustainable, productive and profitable because of the strong management system that we have in place. In order to ensure our fisheries continue to be as strong over the next twenty years, the government’s review looks at the entire operation of the management system including legislation, penalties, Ministerial oversight, socio-economic and environmental considerations.
By tightening environmental measures and updating our fisheries system, the Labor Government is keeping our fisheries strong and our waters clean and safe.