Posted by: The ocean update | July 29, 2015

Large Geelong Star trawler struggling to make money with restrictions imposed after dolphin kills (Australia)

Measuring 95 metres long, the Geelong Star fishing and freezer trawler has arrived in Albany, Western Australia. It is operated by Seafish Tasmania and its arrival has reignited debate over environmental hazards posed by large trawlers.

Measuring 95 metres long, the Geelong Star fishing and freezer trawler has arrived in Albany, Western Australia. It is operated by Seafish Tasmania and its arrival has reignited debate over environmental hazards posed by large trawlers.

July 29th, 2015. The fishing industry says the large trawler Geelong Star is not catching fish and not making any money.

The ship was forced to modify its nets after accidentally killing eight dolphins and some seals in its first two trips this year.

In late June, it unloaded 1,000 tonnes of fish at Geelong, but also reported another dolphin death.

Grahame Turk, chair of the Small Pelagic Fishery Association, says the Fisheries Management Authority has imposed “draconian measures” on the trawler, excluding it from one zone for six months and banning night fishing.

“Now some of these fish are only really catchable at night, red bait is only really ever caught at night, so they’re not able to catch those fish,” he said.

“They’ve seen the marks on their sounders at night, but then in the day time those fish are gone.

“So it is struggling.”

“We said at the time that those measures are draconian.

“There are a lot of measures going on to try to minimise harm to dolphins. Nobody wants to kill dolphins.

“They currently have a barrier at the front of the net to stop dolphins going into the net.

“But there was one dolphin killed, because the regulations required them to keep an exclusion hatch area to be open further down the net, and that’s where a dolphin actually went in.

“Now that regulation has been changed and they can close that while they’ve got the barrier at the front, that makes sense.”

Dolphins are killed in fishing, as an “unfortunate fact of life”, Mr Turk said.

Mr Turk said it was a trial of fishing gear, and the barrier at the front was proving effective.

“This is world leading technology, this problem hasn’t been solved anywhere in the world,” he said.

The 95-metre trawler has 55 metres of freezer, and it can stay out to sea for weeks. The fish are frozen immediately and able to be sold for human consumption instead of pet food, multiplying the catch’s value.

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