Federal Politics

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Burke confident on legal standing on super trawler

Environment Minister Tony Burke has dismissed legal threats by the super trawler Abel Tasman's operators, insisting the government was ''confident of our legal position'' in banning the trawler.

Amid warnings by trawler operator Seafish Tasmania that it will consider going to court if the trawler ban is not lifted, Mr Burke said the federal government often received threats of legal action.

''I've got people who will ... regularly threaten to take the Commonwealth to court,'' he told the National Times this morning. ''We're confident of our legal position.''

Asked if he could rule out any kind of settlement or compensation to Seafish Tasmania, Mr Burke said: ''I think I just did. As I said, we're confident of our legal position.''

The Gillard government slapped a ban on the 143-metre trawler for up to two years amid concerns it would empty sections of the ocean and pose an unacceptable danger to ''by-catch'' species such as dolphins and sea birds.

The ban is presently an interim one, while the government consults with the company, fishermen, environmentalists and the public. Mr Burke must make a final decision by November 20.

Seafish Tasmania says it stands to lose millions of dollars from the ban, which was announced on September 11, shortly after the Dutch-owned vessel arrived in Australian waters.