Friday, 3 April 2015

Abbott Government has given permission for Dutch-owned Seafish Tasmania and Parlevliet En Van Der Plas Beheer B.V. to bring a super trawler into Australian waters

FV Dirk Dirk now known as the Geelong Star

The FV Dirk Dirk owned by Parlevliet & Van der Plas Beheer B.V. based in The Netherlands, now rebranded the Geelong Star, is currently in or near the port of Albany in West Australia.

This refrigerated trawler has a gross tonnage of 3,181 and is 95.18 metres long, 14.50 metres wide, with a service speed of 14,000 knots.

It has freezing and holding capacities of 230,000 kg fish/day (230 tonne) and 91,000 cartons respectively.

The newly re-named Geelong Star comes from the same fishing fleet as the notorious FV Margiris which Seafish Tasmania and Parlevliet En Van Der Plas temporarily rebranded the Abel Tasman during its unsuccessful 2012 to 2014 attempt to fish these waters.

The Geelong Star is reportedly expected to take up to 16,500 tonne of fish during its initial trawl this year – only 2,000 tonne less than the larger super trawler Margiris was hoping to take in 2012. 

The Geelong Star’s maximum quota is an est. 47 per cent of the 2014-15 total allowable catch.

The Abbott Government intends to allow this ship to fish the Australian Small Pelagic Fishery which extends from the Queensland/New South Wales border, typically outside 3 nautical miles, around southern Australia to a line at latitude 31° south (near Lancelin, north of Perth).

In what appears to be a deliberate attempt to politically deceive, the government issued a media release on 12 February 2015 which ignored the antecedents of Seafish Tasmania.

Calling this company “Australian” when in fact it is a company merely registered in Australia but wholly-owned by Silver Pit B.V. a subsidiary of Parlevliet & Van der Plas which also has branches in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Lithuania.

The media release also ignores the fact that it is highly likely that the entire catch will be exported, so that there will be little benefit from the vessel's fish catch flowing to Australia either economically or as available food stock.

As for the potential for adverse environmental impacts – I doubt whether the Minister for Agriculture and Nationals MP for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has given more than a passing thought to this issue.

Unfortunately this report cannot rule out localised depletion of fish stocks given the number of variables in play when a large refrigerated trawler is operating within a fishery.

In 2012 the then Labor Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, stood up for the North Coast region and successfully lobbied to keep the Margiris out of Australian waters.

Based on his record to date, it would be foolish of anyone to expect the current Nationals MP for Page, Kevin Hogan, to stir himself.

Fishing fleets based on the NSW North Coast from the Clarence to the NSW-QLD border have been working towards achieving sustainable fishing practices and they bring millions of dollars annually to the regional economy, so it is disappointing to see the Abbott Government allowing a foreign-owned company to trawl in the NSW fishing zone when it has a history of breaching conditions* imposed by host countries.

Dutch pelagic group Parlevliet & van der Plas (P&P) fined €105,000 in an Irish Court in 2014.
In 2012 Parlevliet & Van Der Plasfined fined €595,000 in Cherbourg after the Maartje Theadora was stopped with €1.2million of illegally-caught fish in freezers.

Parlevliet & Van der Plas FV Jan Maria alleged to have dumped almost 1.6 thousand tonnes herring at sea to make room for fish with a higher market value (highgrading) in 2012-2013.


This was a Seafish Tasmania spokesperson in The Advocate on 3 April 2014:

Mr Geen said he expected his Dutch partners Parlevliet & Van der Plas BV involved in the proposed super trawler,  earmarked to operate out of Devonport and create about 45 jobs while fishing the Great Australian Bight,  would still be keen to pursue the venture pending a successful outcome on the court and expert review hurdles.
"The only thing that's clear is we would like the opportunity to catch our quota,'' Mr Geen said.
"We need to talk to our Dutch partners.
"We have not called them for a long time but as far as I'm aware they are still interested.

Note how carefully crafted is this misleading impression that Seafish Tasmania is an independent company in partnership with the Parlevliet & Van der Plas and not owned by this Dutch company.

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