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Saving the Sea
Super Trawler is Blocked from Fishing in Australian Waters
Australians are relieved this week as the Senate passed the bill from the Lower House to ban fishing by the super trawler, Margiris, which has been renamed the Abel Tasman, for a period of at least two years. This is to allow scientific research into the effect of such fishing practices as this ship undertakes.
The vessel looks ugly and threatening and its size is that of a monster that might ultimately render the sea impotent. It has the ability to wipe out entire fish species leaving many others, currently dependent on them for food or livelihoods, without nourishment and/or an income. The numerous animals and birds that feed on the pelargic fish, its primary target, include whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, penguins, tuna, walrusses, etc. and then there are the birds, such as the albatross, and other things, including humans that would ultimately also suffer.
Parliament Debates to Stop Super Trawler
Greenpeace and others set out to bring attention to the activities of this ship long before it ever reached Australian waters, Members of that organisation bravely painted the side with the word PLUNDER and that is how we must see its actions and ban it and all vessels like it from plundering the oceans.
My first lens on this issue brought a little more attention to it and some who visited there confirmed that they had signed the petition through the link to a website that a group against the ship had set up. That petition raised 35,000 signatures that were then presented to the Minister for the Environment, Tony Bourke, who obviously sought to do the best for the community and the sea. Although the ship had previously been approved by the Minister for Fisheries, Joe Ludwick, it had not yet been allocated a quota.
Anxiety in the community and the press was reaching fever pitch with many demonstrations held including a group of commercial fishing boats along with their recreational counterparts appearing in a mass protest drive in Tasmania. Peaceful protests were also held in front of parliament house and elsewhere. Finally a member of the government, Melissa Parks, stated she would introduce a private members bill into parliament to stop the trawler. That she did!
For two days, September 12th and 13th, 2012, the parliamentary debate raged on in the Lower House with me glued to the television watching every move. MP after MP got up to speak for or against the bill. Many put forward amendments and some sought clarity about the damage that would be caused. A couple of them wanted to know what was known scientifically about it and whether any experiments had been conducted to check on the effect of removing large schools of pelagic fish from the environment, Many of the Opposition put up ridiculous debates such as that the government was trying to hijack recreational fishing and that Australian fisheries would be caught up in the ban.
Letters and comments by commercial fishermen who also wanted it banned were read out and recreational fishing groups were also mentioned for their objections to it. The Opposition, similar to the Republican Party in the USA, could only present arguments on the economic benefits of raping the sea in this manner. They claimed that 50 jobs were at stake as well and these men would be unemployed if the ban went ahead. That was until one of the government members noted that the crew aboard the ship are Croatians and have nothing to do with Australia in the first place.
Late on Thursday afternoon the vote for the bill was taken. My heart stopped as I tried to count the numbers myself and it appeared that it would be voted down. The bells were rung only for 1 minute because of the lateness of the hour, instead of the usual 4 minutes, to summons the members into the house. We knew that the bill would only get through with the support of a couple of independents as we have a hung parliament at this time. The count was finally read out.
There were 52 for and 50 against. The bill passed! Now it was up to the Senate to make it law. That could not happen until Monday, September 17th, and here the government had the numbers to pass it without too much drama. Finally those of us who can see that by damaging the environment we are killing the world had a win. The ship was stopped from fishing for 2 years. The Greens wanted it banned for good but that was a step too far.
Owners of the vessel have not been defeated, however, as they now claim they will still fish around Australia's east coast and one must wonder about the Dutch government's interest in our parliament's decision. No doubt there will still be protests and demonstrations against it if it persists with this threat, It is also threatening to sue the government for compensation. We await these actions following their defeat in parliament.
Did Parliament Do the Right Thing
Super Trawler at Work
With modern equipment the fish are easily targeted and few if any survive the catch. An entire school is gone, The animals waiting to feed on them are also victims of such fishing practices. What was once an income for several hundred commercial fisherman is now taken by one vessel using just a handful of men. This is wiping out fishermen around the world,.
The ship in this video is a fraction of the size of the super trawler, Margiris (now Abel Tasman), but serves to show what little chance fish have against modern technology. Behind the trawler we see some of the animals that were deprived of their meal trailing the ship in the hope of a handout,
A Win for people Power
There is no debate when it comes to the effect of people power and the means we all have to change govenrment driven decisions that are unpopular. The organiser of the petition mentioned above sent me an email following the decision
Rebecca (a Get up Organiser) sent me this Email and it's meant for everyone who lifted their minds and took action to help stop this potential tragedy. Naturally I cna't reproduce it in full so snippets witll have to do, The joy and sense of achievement is echoed in the words.
"Together with almost 94,000 others, you have helped to deliver a great win for Australia's oceans and fisheries. The Government have announced that they will prohibit the super trawler from fishing for two years until further scientific research into its impacts have been completed. We expect that this will result in a ban of super trawlers, but will have to remain diligent."
This Mighty Bird
The Albatross is down to only a few breeding pairs and are declining fast due to fishing activities, Can we save them? Do we have the will to try to save them?
How Much do You Care?
Do you know about the wonderful albatross
Still images from Dreamstime - click here
© 2012 norma-holt