Trawler could become fishing mothership

GIANT FREEZER: The Australian Fishing Management Authority is considering a proposal to allow the Abel Tasman to be a mother ship to other fishing vessels.
GIANT FREEZER: The Australian Fishing Management Authority is considering a proposal to allow the Abel Tasman to be a mother ship to other fishing vessels.

SEAFISH Tasmania has put a proposal to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) to use the Abel Tasman as a mothership for other fishing boats.

The proposal would allow smaller boats to transfer fish onto the super trawler in a process called at-sea transhipment.

Seafish Tasmania director Gerry Geen said the super trawler was still sitting in Port Lincoln "burning money", after it arrived here in late August last year.

"This is about the Abel Tasman going fishing," he said.

"We've been asked to not go fishing and we're going along with that.

"We said we will leave the nets on the wharf and purchase the catches from other existing small Australian boats, freeze them and market them."

Seafish Tasmania would not own the other boats loading fish onto the Abel Tasman, and they would fish their own or leased quotas, Mr Geen said.

"It's not our first option, but we would like to make use of the vessel," he said.

The proposal to allow the Abel Tasman to act as an at-sea transhipment vessel is now available to the public on AFMA's website.

"As commonwealth fisheries are offshore and often remote from ports, at-sea transhipment allows another boat to process the fish quickly," the proposal says.

"The quality of catch can deteriorate if it stays in the hold waiting for the boat to finish fishing and then travel back to port.

"The carrier boat would not be using fishing nets at all."

AFMA said it set catch limits for the fishery each year based on scientific advice and consultation.

"These catch limits would not be affected by any decision to allow transhipment at sea."

To see the proposal, visit AFMA's website at www.afma.gov.au

The proposal will be open for comment until January 28 and comments can be submitted online or by email at AFMAConsultation@afma.gov.au

The Abel Tasman was banned from fishing for two years by the federal government late last year.