25 June 2012
Andrew asks the Prime Minister a question regarding the Margiris super-trawler.
Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:24): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, what on earth were regulators thinking when they gave approval for the world’s second-biggest trawler, the 142 metre Margiris, to operate around Tasmania? Will you review that decision with a view to revoking it or at least put in place safeguards to protect Australia’s best fisheries by ensuring that the super trawler’s massive quota is broken down into smaller limits for specific areas?
Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Prime Minister) (14:25): I thank the member for Denison for his question. I know that he is seriously concerned about this matter. I can assure the member for Denison that, contrary to a report in the Daily Telegraph on 7 June, no application has been granted for the vessel he refers to. I believe that the member for Denison’s concerns were probably triggered by that report or by follow-up media occasioned by that report. There has been no application to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority by the vessel which the member for Denison refers to and which is a large, mid-water-trawl factory vessel—and the member for Denison is concerned about its size. No application has been made in respect of that vessel to the relevant independent authority, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.
I can also assure the member for Denison and the House in general that, if such an application were to be made, it would be subject to all of the normal considerations that the Australian Fisheries Management Authority goes through. These include catch limits—and the member for Denison’s question refers, effectively, to catch limits. They can include requirements to have observers on the vessel who monitor fishing activities. They can also include issues about the kind of equipment used, including technology which, for example, can detect the presence of seals. So, should an application be made, each of these issues would be the subject of consideration. Other requirements can also be engaged in and considered by the relevant authority, including logbook reporting, satellite vessel-monitoring systems, mandatory reporting of any interactions with protected species and the like.
I can assure the member for Denison that what determines the size of any taking of fish is not the size of the vessel—and he has referred to a large vessel—but the constraints that are put on it by the relevant independent authority, who would work through the issues should an application be made.