The two-year ban on super trawlers won in 2012 by Australian environmentalists and fishermen is almost up.
The ban that defines super trawlers as being over 130 metres in length with 2,000 tonnes storage followed an extensive public awareness campaign and pressure from fishing groups, but it runs out on November 19.
Next year Australian waters could open up to huge factory boats such as the 143m Margiris that attracted media attention in 2012 and made many Australian aware of super trawlers for the first time.
Super-trawlers originated in the EU and operate mainly in the North Sea. They fish indiscriminately, on a huge scale and disrupt the delicate ecosystems of the oceans in which they function.
Target species for super-trawlers in Australian waters include redbait, jack mackerel and blue mackerel, which are an important part of the food chain for many predator species including Australian fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, sharks, southern Bluefin tuna and sea birds.
These predatory species are also caught in the trawls, resulting in further imbalances in the ecosystems. In 2003, the journal Nature printed an article in which it was estimated that the populations of large predatory fish have dropped by 90% since commercial fishing began on a grand scale.
These ships also create an environment in which smaller fishing boats cannot compete, which has become a major problem in West Africa where the oceans have been depleted by super trawlers.
Overfishing is an issue of pressing international concern. In 1998 the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation concluded that global fishing capacity was 2.5 times greater than global fish stocks could sustain. This capacity has increased since then.
Greenpeace is urging Australians to contact their local federal MP to voice their concern about this issue. More information available at: greenpeace.org.au.