Greenpeace activists sabotaged the departure of 'Margiris KL749' super trawler from a Dutch port. (Photo: Greenpeace)
Greenpeace activists keep super-trawler from leaving port
Friday, June 29, 2012, 01:00 (GMT + 9)
Greenpeace has successfully interfered with a super-trawler leaving from the Netherlands for Australia. Activist climbers and divers this week sabotaged the 140-m FV Margiris in the Dutch port of Ijmuiden by placing a chain around the ship's propeller and establishing themselves on the cables between the ship and the quay.
The ship’s operators are waiting to receive government approval to leave for Devonport. The Lithuanian-flagged FV Margiris, is one of the world’s largest fishing trawlers, will be re-flagged as Australian and deployed to catch more than 17,000 tonnes of baitfish off the southern island state of Tasmania.
“Wherever this ship has gone it has destroyed fish stocks and ruined fishermen's livelihoods,” Greenpeace oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle explained. “Along with a broad cross-section of the community that has declared the Margiris unwelcome, we will be ramping up efforts to stop it doing the same in Australian waters.”
Pelle said that given its history of “plundering oceans elsewhere,” allowing the Margiris to fish in Australian waters ridicules the country’s recent environmental commitments, including its immense network of new marine reserves, AFP reports.
|The MARGIRIS KL749, Lithuanian super trawler, fishing. (Photo: Pierre Gleizes / Greenpeace)
“The Margiris is bad news for Australia and globally irresponsible. Offering this vessel yet another fishing ground to plunder simply perpetuates an unsustainable fishing industry,” the activist stated.
In Tasmania, a petition against the ship's imminent arrival has attracted thousands of signatures, including those of celebrities such as singer Guy Sebastian and surfer Kelly Slater, AAP reports.
The Greens want the Margiris banned and Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie earlier this week encouraged Prime Minister Julia Gillard to do the same.
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has dismissed concerns about the super-trawler, saying it would have little if any impact on the broader ecosystem in light of the strict catch limits already in place.
AFMA also noted that the trawler will be allowed to catch only 10 per cent of available fish, a figure it calls highly precautionary because it falls well below international standards.
And Seafish Tasmania, the firm that will operate the vessel, assured that on-board observers will make sure it complies with the rules.
Seafish Director Gerry Geen said the AFMA-set quota was estimated to be 5 per cent of the total Australian fishery for baitfish, Sydney Morning Herald reports.
"It's not the size of the boat that matters, it's the size of the quota," Geen commented. "The normal process is under way now for Margiris to be registered as an Australian vessel.”
The company plans to start fishing in August.
By Natalia Real