Labor listened to the ongoing concerns from the Tasmanian community and
across the country and proposed this inquiry in August 2015 to examine the
environmental, social and economic impacts of large-capacity factory trawlers
in Australia's marine jurisdiction. The reference was opposed by Liberal and
National Coalition Senators.
In government, Labor ensured appropriate consideration was given to the
impact of large-capacity factory trawlers on Australia’s fisheries by amending
the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC
Act). Our amendment guaranteed Australia's waters were adequately
protected from risks associated with the use of large-capacity factory
In September 2012, the then Labor Government used these powers to ban
the operation of the FV Margiris, while an assessment of its impact was
undertaken. Labor established an independent expert panel to provide an
objective judgment of the environmental impacts of this trawling activity. This
ban applied to vessels of similar size and capacity to the original
large-capacity factory trawler only, and included vessels that received or
processed fish, not just trawler vessels. The ban was opposed by the Liberal
and National Coalition when in Opposition.
A sunset clause in the original amendments enacted in 2012 means that no
further bans can be placed on new large-capacity factory trawlers hoping to
fish Australian waters. To ensure that further bans are possible, in early
2014, Labor introduced legislation into the Senate to remove the sunset clause.
Under Labor's plan, all future large-capacity factory trawlers could be
thoroughly assessed using the most up-to-date science, thereby protecting our
oceans and our recreational fishing spots. To date, the Abbott and Turnbull Liberal
National Coalition Governments have refused to work with Labor on this
Labor is particularly concerned about the potential for localised
depletion and its environmental and recreational impact. Labor recognises the
importance of Australian waters to recreational fishers, the commercial fishing
industry and the tourism industry, and for its conservation value. Labor is
committed to adequately protecting Australian waters from the risks of
overfishing and from the use of large‑capacity factory trawlers.
Labor remains committed to preventing the operation of all
large-capacity factory trawlers in Australian waters, unless a thorough
assessment against the most up-to-date science can verify such operations will
not undermine small pelagic fisheries and recreational fishing spots.
New South Wales
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