Monday, 11 May 2015
Geelong Star (Credit: ABC)
Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) media releases tell a sad tale of lessons not learnt by the Abbott Government.
MISTAKE NO. 1 – allowing the super trawler to operate in Australian waters
Geelong Star meets AFMA requirements on arrival into Australia
Last updated 1 April 2015
Today (1 April 2015) officers from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) met and inspected the Geelong Star, the mid-water trawl vessel nominated by Seafish Tasmania Pty Ltd in the Small Pelagic Fishery, upon its arrival into the port of Albany, Western Australia.
Officers from AFMA’s Bycatch and Compliance units conducted a detailed inspection of the vessel. AFMA Compliance officers confirmed that the Geelong Star has met AFMA’s strict conditions for fishing vessels entering Australia and that the GPS-based vessel tracking system is fully operational.
AFMA General Manger of Fisheries Operations, Mr Peter Venslovas said that the vessel passed all AFMA’s requirements for a new fishing vessel entering Australia waters.
“AFMA Compliance officers routinely conduct inspections of all fishing vessels in Commonwealth fisheries to ensure that they comply with AFMA’s strict management arrangements. Today’s inspection of the Geelong Star is just the first in what will become a regular event for this vessel when operating in the Small Pelagic Fishery” said Mr Venslovas.
Assessment by AFMA Bycatch officers confirmed the vessel’s ability to comply with AFMA’s requirements to minimise and monitor impacts on non-target species and the broader marine environment. Their inspection included a detailed assessment of the vessel’s Marine Mammal Excluder Device and the seabird bycatch mitigation devices required by AFMA.
An AFMA-approved Vessel Management Plan is required for all mid-water trawl vessels operating in the Small Pelagic Fishery and today’s inspection was a key step in AFMA’s process to finalise the necessary plan for the Geelong Star.
Vessel Management Plan conditions are in addition to, or re-inforce, AFMA’s standard operating and reporting obligations for all mid-water trawl vessels in the Small Pelagic Fishery. These detailed plans set out the individual vessel requirements to ensure fishing impacts on non-target marine wildlife and other fisheries (recreational and commercial) are minimised.
The Vessel Management Plan for the Geelong Star will be published on the AFMA website once it has been finalised. The Vessel Management Plan is subject to change by AFMA at any time in response to new information about the fishing operations or the marine environment.
MISTAKE NO. 2 – imagining that bycatch would not become a vexing issue
AFMA inspect the Geelong Star
Last updated 2 April 2015
On 1 April 2015, AFMA Compliance and Bycatch Officers inspected the Geelong Star, the mid-water trawl vessel recently nominated by Seafish Tasmania Pty Ltd in the Small Pelagic Fishery.
AFMA Compliance Officers confirmed the vessel met AFMA’s conditions for entry of fishing vessels to Australia and that AFMA’s tamper-proof, GPS-based vessel tracking system was correctly installed and fully operational. The officers also collected detailed vessel information to assist them during future inspections to ensure compliance with AFMA’s catch limits and other management arrangements.
AFMA Bycatch Officers inspected the bycatch mitigation devices required by AFMA including the marine mammal excluder and seabird scaring devices installed on the Geelong Star’s mid-water trawl gear. The officers also undertook an assessment of the vessel’s ability to comply with AFMA’s full suite of requirements to monitor and minimise impacts on non-target species and the broader marine environment and gave an educational presentation to the vessel’s skippers and crew advising them of the requirements.
Following AFMA’s initial inspection of the vessel, it will now work with the company, vessel crew and bycatch experts to finalise the Vessel Management Plan (VMP). This plan will set out the detailed operational requirements that minimise the impact of fishing operations on non-target marine wildlife and other fisheries (recreational and commercial). The conditions set out in the VMP are in addition to, or otherwise reinforce, AFMA’s standard operating and reporting conditions for all mid-water trawl vessels in the Small Pelagic Fishery.
All mid-water trawl vessels in the Small Pelagic Fishery must have an AFMA-approved VMP before commencing fishing operations. Once finalised, AFMA will publish the VMP on our website. Please note that the VMP is subject to change by AFMA at any time (even within a fishing trip) in response to new information about the fishing operations and/or the marine environment.
For more information read the FAQs for the Small Pelagic Fishery on the Small Pelagic Fishery page.
MISTAKE NO. 3 – Expecting a management plan to be effective re large marine animal bycatch for a factory ship expecting to catch up to 230 tonne a day in its small-fish nets with a 16,500 tonne quota limit
Geelong Star Vessel Management Plan
Last updated 22 April 2015
All mid-water trawl vessels in the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery must have a vessel management plan approved by AFMA before they start fishing. This is a legal requirement.
A vessel management plan is a comprehensive boat-specific plan to minimise the risk of interactions with protected species (e.g. seabirds, seals and dolphins). Vessel management plans contain both recommendations and mandatory measures that must be employed by the boat to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to minimise its impact on protected species.
Vessel management plans can be updated to ensure they take into account on-the-water experience and the latest developments in techniques to reduce interactions with protected species.
The Geelong Star Vessel Management Plan was updated on 22 April 2015. View the updated Geelong Star Vessel Management Plan.
MISTAKE NO. 5 – not posting an Australian Fisheries Management Authority media release on its website alerting the Australian public to the fact that during its first fishing voyage the Seafish Tasmania and Parlevliet & Van der Plas Beheer B.V. killed four protected dolphins and two protected seals in Geelong Star’s nets
ABC NEWS 28 April 2015: Tasmanian Government refuses to publicly denounce operation of factory trawler Geelong Star
MISTAKE NO. 6 – not admitting that allowing this super trawler to continue to operate is a political and environmental error
Geelong Star – operational update
Last updated 2 May 2015
Statement 2 May 2015
AFMA has been advised of four further dolphin mortalities from fishing by the Geelong Star, the vessel nominated by Seafish Tasmania Ltd to fish in the Small Pelagic Fishery. The mortalities occurred in one shot during the vessel’s second trip. AFMA has also been advised of two fur seal mortalities during the vessel’s second trip.
Consistent with the requirements of all vessels fishing in Commonwealth waters, the Geelong Star must report any interaction with protected species, including marine mammals like dolphins, fur seals or Australian sea lions.
AFMA takes any marine mammal mortalities seriously. We are disappointed that these additional dolphin and seal mortalities have occurred.
AFMA understands the Geelong Star is voluntarily returning to port because of the dolphin mortalities for a full review of its marine mammal exclusion equipment. AFMA will participate in the review to determine how to minimise further marine mammal interactions. The vessel will also be inspected by AFMA officers when it arrives in port to ensure all catch documentation is in order.
MISTAKE NO. 7 – a weak response from the Federal Minister for the Environment and Liberal Member for Flinders, Greg Hunt, who did not post a ministerial media release on the subject and only made a statement on 3 May 2015 to journalists saying that he would write a letter or two
ABC News 3 May 2014 Greg Hunt condemns factory trawler Geelong Star's dolphin deaths as 'unacceptable and outrageous'