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Bottom Trawling

Rachel Siewert 22 Mar 2011

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia) (4.07pm)—I move: That the Senate—

(a) notes:
(i) deep sea bottom trawling can be a highly destructive fishing practice causing enormous damage to deep sea corals, rare and unique species, fish populations and sensitive bottom habitats,
(ii) the Senate on 11 October 2006 unanimously endorsed the Australian Government position to put in place measures on protecting high seas biodiversity through proposing a series of bans on high seas bottom trawling,
(iii) in December 2006 the United Nations (UN) called on all fishing nations to ban bottom trawling in vulnerable marine ecosystems, including seamounts, hydrothermal vents and cold water corals until it had been assessed that there will be no significant adverse impacts and that in 2009 the UN General Assembly reinforced the need for environmental impact assessments of bottom fisheries on the high seas and to ensure that vessels do not engage in bottom fishing until such assessments have been carried out,
(iv) Australia has not yet completed scientific environmental assessments for the South Pacific Ocean or the Southern Indian Ocean yet it allows Australian flagged vessels to undertake high seas bottom trawl fishing in these areas, which is in clear contravention of UN resolutions which have been supported by the Australian Government, and
(v) that in 2011 the UN General Assembly will review actions taken by states, including Australia, to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems of the high seas from destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling;

(b) expresses concern that the Australian Government is failing to implement the bipartisan policy of protecting the biodiversity of the high seas from destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling; and

(c) urges the Government, as a matter of priority, to:

(i) complete and make public the required scientific assessments for the South Pacific and Southern Indian oceans as a matter of priority,
(ii) put in place a ban on all Australian bottom trawl fishing on seamounts and other vulnerable marine ecosystems until it can be shown scientifically that such fishing will not damage fragile marine ecosystems, and
(iii) advocate and support a complete UN ban on all high seas bottom trawling until thorough scientific and publicly available assessments have been undertaken and appropriate, effective conservation and management objectives are in place.

Senator LUDWIG (Queensland—Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery)

(4.07 pm)—by leave—the Australian Fisheries Management Authority has commissioned a benthic impact assessment for the southern Indian Ocean and South Pacific regions. This will be completed by midyear and will allow the Australian government to make approTuesday,priate management decisions consistent with the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution on bottom trawling fishing. In the interim, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority has adopted stringent conservation and management measures designed to prevent significant adverse impact on vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Question negatived.

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