SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia plans to block a controversial "super trawler" from fishing in its waters for two years in a victory for environmental activists worried about the impact on fish stocks and other marine life.
Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke will introduce legislation on Tuesday to give him the power to ban the vessel from fishing until more scientific research is carried out.
Burke said there was too much uncertainty surrounding the environmental impact of the 142 meter (466 foot) trawler, reportedly the world's second-largest fishing vessel.
"There has never been a fishing vessel of this capacity in Australia before and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act needs to be updated so that it can deal with it," Burke said.
Seafish Tasmania brought the FV Margiris to Australian shores last month in a joint-venture with the Dutch owners. It was awarded a 18,000 tonne quota to fish for jack mackerel and red bait fish off the coast of Australia under strict conditions. Its name was changed to the Abel Tasman and registered in Australia.
"Changing laws in response to emotive campaigning and "trial by media" undermines the credibility of Australian fisheries management, creates uncertainty and insecurity for fishermen and deters investment that is needed to support regional jobs," Seafish Tasmania and the Commonwealth Fisheries Association said in an open letter to lawmakers published on Tuesday.
Greenpeace, which had attempted to stop the ship docking when it arrived in South Australia, hailed the decision as a "sensible response to the threat of the Abel Tasman".
(Reporting by Damian Gill, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)