This evening the Senate failed to disallow regulations that had lifted a ban on night fishing by the factory-freezer vessel Geelong Star by a single vote. A tied vote, 31 for and 31 against, means the disallowance motion to reinstate the night-fishing ban was unsuccessful. The Geelong Star courted controversy earlier in the year when it caught and killed 9 dolphins.
Greens spokesperson for Fisheries, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, said, “If it’s dark and you can’t see if there are dolphins nearby in the water, how can you take action to prevent dolphins being caught in the nets of a giant factory-freezer vessel like the Geelong Star?
“AFMA introduced the night-time ban in the first place calling it a ‘logical mitigation measure’. The documents we received about the dolphin deaths under Freedom of Information said that because the Geelong Star was fishing at dusk and into the night, the ability of the crew to see if there were dolphins nearby was limited.
“The Greens want the strongest possible measures put in place to actually protect protected species like dolphins and seals. If anyone else had harmed these protected creatures they could face penalties of up to 2 years in jail.
“The Environment Minister is responsible for making sure that ‘all reasonable steps [are taken] to ensure that cetaceans are not killed or injured as a result of the fishing’. AFMA once thought a night-fishing ban was a ‘reasonable’ step to prevent dolphin deaths. The Greens gave the Senate an opportunity to reinstitute the ban on night-fishing for the super-trawler but unfortunately they didn’t make that call.
“The Greens are going to continue to the government to account over factory-freezer vessels and will keep fighting for our marine life and local communities,” he concluded.