02 December 2015

Progress made on Geelong Star negotiations

I welcome yesterday’s negotiations between the commercial and recreational fishing sectors on the operations of the Geelong Star in the Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF).

Seafish Tasmania, the owners of the Geelong Star, has agreed it will not fish in management zone 7 of the SPF which is located on the NSW coast until the end of the season on 30 April 2016.

This is an area nearly 14 times the size of Tasmania and includes the major game fishing ports of Port Stephens and Coffs Harbour in New South Wales to name a few.

In addition, Seafish Tasmania has also agreed that the Geelong Star will avoid fishing near major game fishing tournaments.

The operators of the Geelong Star assured the meeting that best endeavours will be made to minimise interactions between the vessel and recreational fishers. Participants agreed to meet again early in the new year.

I am disappointed that Victorian waters have not been included in this agreement along with other high value recreational fishing areas across Australia and urge the parties to resume talks as soon as possible. They have committed to meet again early next year.

For many months, I have been calling for the Geelong Star to be banned.

A night-time ban on the SPF was put in place by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) in May this year. After nine dolphin deaths and the resumption of overnight fishing, enough was enough.  I support the continuation of a night time ban.

I thank Fisheries Assistant Minister Sen Ann Ruston for listening to the concerns of my constituents and facilitating these discussions.

In the electorate of Corangamite – an electorate which includes 188km of coastline – there is very significant opposition to this trawler. The scientific evidence conducted by AFMA to support the industrial scale fishing of the SPF in the manner being proposed is simply not conclusive.

I also wish to correct the record in relation to the disallowance motion in the Senate seeking to impose a night time fishing ban on the SPF.  I told a reporter that there was no time to lobby my Coalition colleagues on this motion due to the short time frame involved, not that I didn’t have the time to do so.

2 December 2015