Super Trawlers

Labor recognises the importance of Australian waters to recreational fishers, the commercial fishing industry and tourism, and for its conservation value. Labor is committed to adequately protecting Australian waters from the risks of overfishing and from the use of super trawlers.


In Government, Labor ensured appropriate consideration was given to the impact of super trawlers on Australia’s fisheries by amending the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act). Our amendment guaranteed Australia’s waters were adequately protected from risks associated with the use of super trawlers.


In September 2012, the then Labor Government used these powers to ban the operation of the FV Margiris, known as the ‘super trawler', while an assessment of its impact was undertaken. We established an independent expert panel to provide an objective judgment of the environmental impacts of this trawling activity. This ban applied to vessels of similar size and capacity to the original super trawler only, and included vessels that received or processed fish, not just trawler vessels. 


The ban was opposed by the then Liberal Opposition. 


As you may be aware, a sunset clause in the original amendments enacted in 2012 means that no further bans can be placed on new super trawlers hoping to fish Australian waters.


To make further bans possible, in early 2014 Labor Senator Joe Ludwig introduced legislation into the Senate to remove the sunset clause. Under Labor's plan all future super trawlers could be thoroughly assessed using the most up-to-date science, thereby protecting our oceans and our recreational fishing spots. To date the Abbott-Turnbull Liberal Government has refused to work with Labor on this important issue.


Labor remains committed to preventing the operation of all super trawlers in Australian waters, unless a thorough assessment against the most up-to-date science can verify such operations will not undermine small pelagic fisheries and recreational fishing spots.


Federal Labor has a proven track record of protecting the environment. We will continue to pressure the Abbott-Turnbull Government to ensure to Australia’s precious marine resources are conserved.