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As part of Labor’s support for fishers and healthy oceans, Tony Burke and Justine Keay have today announced a Shorten Labor Government will permanently ban super trawlers - or factory freezer vessels - from Australia’s Small Pelagic Fishery.

Current legislation in Australia allows factory freezer vessels under 130 metres in length to operate in the Small Pelagic Fishery.

Labor is the party that first stopped the super trawler and has tried a number of times to improve the current law. 

Each time it has been blocked by the Liberal-National Government.

As recently as November 2016 Coalition Senators, including two Tasmanian Liberal members, used a Senate Inquiry to reaffirm their support for super trawlers.   

Labor’s commitment will guarantee Australia’s waters are adequately protected from risks associated with the use of large-capacity factory freezer trawlers in this fishery, including the impact of localised depletion and bycatch.

However it will have no impact upon existing commercial operators that are sustainably fishing our waters. This is about getting the balance right.

“When Labor was in government we stopped super trawlers, but shamefully there has been no greater champion of super trawlers than the Tasmanian Liberals and my opponent did nothing to stop them,” Ms Keay said. 

“Recreational fishers and the broader community on the North West and West Coasts have told me they are concerned super trawlers deplete fish stocks, negatively impact recreational opportunities, cause general environmental degradation and we know their operation is not supported the by science.”

“That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will permanently ban super trawlers because we are prepared to act in the best interests of the community,” Ms Keay said.

Tony Burke said that boats with factory freezing capabilities as small as 45 metres are now considered super trawlers in the Northern Hemisphere. 

“It is only a matter of time before these sorts of factory freezer vessels want to come to Australia,” Mr Burke said.

“Labor recognises the importance of Australian waters to recreational fishers, the commercial fishing industry and the tourism industry. We are committed to protecting Australian waters from the risks of overfishing and from the use of large-capacity factory freezer trawlers,” Mr Burke said.

Labor’s ban will give industry certainty and it will also mean that recreational fishers no longer need to worry about baitfish being targeted for days or even weeks by super trawlers that can stay out at sea for long periods.

In addition to a permanent ban on super trawlers, any unused fishing quota in the Small Pelagic Fishery will be entrusted to the Australian community and set aside in a recreational fishing trust. This will mean that more baitfish stay in the water to feed larger species such as Tuna.