Fears for industry, stocks

CELEBRITIES including Guy Sebastian and Kelly Slater have joined an online petition against a proposal for super trawler the Margiris to fish Australian waters.

CELEBRITIES including Guy Sebastian and Kelly Slater have joined an online petition against a proposal for super trawler the Margiris to fish Australian waters.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has joined the Greens in calling for the Margiris venture to be rejected.

But the backers of the Dutch-owned Margiris are pushing ahead. The trawler is being reflagged to Australia ahead of its scheduled introduction within weeks, says joint venturer Seafish Tasmania. It will fish for 18,000 tonnes of mackerel and redbait, from waters off Queensland, the Bass Strait and Great Australian Bight. The 9500-tonne stern trawler is more than twice the size of the previous largest ship licensed to fish in Commonwealth waters.

A Seafish spokesman said yesterday the Australian Fisheries Management Authority-set quota was estimated to be 5 per cent of the total Australian fishery for "small pelagic" fish. But opponents say such large-scale catches will drastically affect local fisheries based on larger fish that depend on the small pelagics.

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