Sign the petition to say NO to overseas fishing fleets in Australian waters
Australia’s borders were closed to overseas fishing fleets more than 20 years ago, after decades of devastating overfishing.
But it has just been revealed in Parliament that Australia’s commercial fishing industry is in talks with the Australian Government about allowing overseas fleets into our waters. And at the same time, the Government is trying to strip back the sanctuaries in the marine parks where these vessels might operate.
Opening Australian waters to cheap distant water fishing fleets would be bad for marine life, bad for local fishing communities and bad for recreational fishers.
Australia would also be at risk from the human rights abuses, organised crime and weakened border security which have plagued other nations that allow overseas fleets to plunder their waters.
Dear my MP (CC Minister Frydenberg, Minister Ruston, Minister Joyce, Mr Burke and key senators in my state),
I am deeply concerned that Australia’s commercial fishing industry is asking the Turnbull Government to allow overseas fleets into our waters in order to dramatically increase the tonnage of fish taken. And at the same time, the Government is proposing to strip back the sanctuaries (green zones / IUCNII) in the marine parks where these vessels might operate.
Australia’s borders were closed to overseas fishing fleets more than 20 years ago, after decades of devastating overfishing of our tuna, prawns and demersal fish.
Opening Australian waters to cheap distant-water fishing fleets would be bad for marine life, bad for local fishing communities and bad for recreational fishers.
Australia would also be at risk from the human rights abuses, organised crime and weakened border security which have plagued other nations that allow overseas fleets to plunder their waters. The United Nations reports that overseas fishing fleets are often crewed by people receiving low wages and forced to work in abysmal conditions, and that organised crime is using fishing vessels to traffic in humans and drugs, dump wastes, launder money, overfish and illegally fish.
The Turnbull Government’s plan to remove almost half of Australia’s marine sanctuaries leaves important areas at risk from industrial scale fishing: in the Kimberley’s Argo-Rowley Terrace Marine Park; Gascoyne Marine Park which feeds the iconic Ningaloo; offshore from the tourism meccas Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands; offshore from Albany over Australia’s largest mountain range – the Diamantina Fracture Zone – thought to be a treasure trove of unique undiscovered species; and alarmingly, possibly in our Coral Sea – the cradle to the Great Barrier Reef.
Being some hundreds of kilometres offshore, the only boats big enough to fish that far from port are found in foreign, distant water fishing fleets.
At a Senate estimates hearing in October, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority chief executive James Findlay confirmed under questioning that it is in talks with Australian fishers about allowing overseas vessels into Australia's waters.
Bringing in overseas fleets would have little to no benefit to Australia’s economy or regional communities, with the fish being caught by overseas owned boats and crews, and sold into distant markets. And it would come at a great cost to local fishing communities and recreational fishers, while putting more pressure on vulnerable fish species, as well as a huge increase in bycatch of other marine life.
We must not expose Australia to the human rights and environmental abuses that countries such as New Zealand and the US have experienced – including undermining human rights and labour conditions, organised crime and weakened border security.
The Australian public did not support the Supertrawler fishing in Australian waters, and it will not support opening up our waters to overseas fishing fleets.
I urge you to say no to overseas fishing fleets in Australian waters. And with the Turnbull Government currently finalising its draft plans to strip half of the sanctuary green zone protection from Australia’s National Network of Marine Parks (going against the recommendations of its own 2016 Marine Park Review), I urge you to do all you can to restore Australia’s sanctuaries (green zones / IUCNII) – in line with the wishes of the local businesses and communities around Australia who have pleaded to have protection restored to secure their regions’ reputations and local livelihoods, and in line with the 80,000 Australians (including 16,000 recreational fishers) who asked for our sanctuaries to be restored in the recent public consultation.