The Australian Greens say a tussle between the Federal and State governments for control of the ocean must not be allowed to result in 10,000sq km of Western Australia’s marine areas being exposed to bottom-trawling.
“Bottom-trawling is effectively factory farming of the ocean,” Senator WA Rachel Siewert said. “It wrecks fragile structures such as coral reefs and sponge gardens and indiscriminately sweeps up whatever marine life is in front of the nets.
“If the boundary changes proposed by the Federal Australian Fisheries Management Authority to the Western Deepwater Trawl and North West Slope Trawl fisheries go through, 4100sq km off the Gascoyne coast and 6000sq km off the Kimberley will be exposed to bottom trawling.
“Both AFMA fisheries are ostensibly targeting crustaceans such as scampi but if these changes are allowed, the trawlers are also likely to catch demersal scalefish in the nets – this will impact on the WA line fishers who already targeting high-value demersal scalefish in these areas.
“The area off the Gascoyne has never been trawled and is considered relatively pristine while the area off the Kimberley region was trawled by Taiwanese fishers in the past but is thought to have recovered since then.
“The region off the Kimberley has been proven to include areas shallower than 200 metres; in other words, it was never intended to be within the AFMA trawl fishery in the first place but now AFMA is threatening to let a closure lapse that will allow trawlers in.
“I call on Tony Burke and Environment Minister Peter Garrett to immediately protect the 6000sq km areas off the Kimberley by reinstating the closure due to lapse in October.
“I also call on them to defer a decision on the boundary change for both of the AFMA fisheries until Federal marine regional planning for south-west and north-west WA, which is already underway, is complete.”
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