Federal Politics

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Supertrawler 'could still be banned'

ENVIRONMENT Minister Tony Burke has said the supertrawler Margiris could still be prevented from fishing in Australian waters by a Labor MP's private member's bill that would ban the trawler.

A day after Mr Burke announced he was placing restrictions on the 142-metre, Dutch-owned trawler but did not have the power to stop it, Western Australian MP Melissa Parke vowed to press ahead with a bill to change the law so that the trawler could be banned.

''There will continue to be a few more stages of this to run,'' Mr Burke told radio 2GB yesterday. His announcements did not amount to ''the government's view that this is the end of the matter'', he said.

The supertrawler, which would be the largest ever to fish in Australian waters, can catch up to 600 tonnes of fish a day. The company that plans to operate the ship, Seafish Tasmania, has a quota to catch 18,000 tonnes of mostly redbait and jack mackerel from waters that stretch from Queensland, around Tasmania and across to WA.

Among other conditions, Mr Burke announced that a government monitor must be on the ship at all times and that an underwater camera must record the activities in the net.

The ship must stop, review its procedures and move 50 nautical miles away if it kills one or more dolphins or three or more seals.


Ms Parke said the minister's new rules would ''absolutely not'' stop her from moving a private member's bill that would ban the supertrawler.

She said she believed Mr Burke had done all he could within his ministerial powers. ''But the fact is the Parliament has the power to stop this ship,'' Ms Parke said.

The Fremantle MP plans to give notice to caucus of her bill when Parliament resumes next week. Ms Parke said that since announcing her private member's bill she had been inundated with messages of support from the public and fishing groups.

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