Australia should show leadership and ban trawling altogether to promote sustainable fishing in the region, the WWF's international president says.

In her first visit to Australia, the wildlife conservation group's Yolanda Kakabadse applauded the federal government's recent move to ban the Abel Tasman super trawler from fishing in Australian waters, pending further investigations.

''Even though some people might feel that they are losers by that policy decision, the beneficiaries are a larger group,'' she said yesterday.

A crucial aspect of sustainable development, which Ms Kakabadse will be promoting during her visit, is conservation in the Coral Triangle, which covers Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. Much of Australia's local catch is nourished in the region. Most of the tinned tuna Australians eat is also sourced from the Coral Triangle region, WWF says.

If the region is to have sustainable fisheries, Ms Kakabadse said Australia must play a leading role.

''Australia has the benefit and the authority … to bring the lessons of Australia to the larger international community because it has been taking decisions on protecting marine areas and [because of] its policy against trawling.'' She said the first step towards creating sustainable fisheries was ''totally discarding'' trawling from the industry.

''If you are visionary … you will start taking decisions like limiting stocks and changing tools for fishing.'' AAP