At MBG&LAC’s Open Tournament Dinner people gathered and held up “Stop the Trawler” posters. The controversial trawler Geelong Starnow has access to an extra one million square kilometres of waterthanks toAustralian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) expanding fishing grounds.
The Merimbula Big Game andLakes Angling Club(MBGALAC) supported the regulation change, which came into effect on May 1,in the hope itwill lead to the Geelong Star being removed fromlocal waters.
MBGALAC has been rallying to ban the mid-water trawler for months, but after taking the issue to the government it was informed the Commonwealth would not ban the ship and instead was askedto provide a compromise.MBGALAC secretary Chris Young said the club’s plan wasto extend anOffshore Constitutional Settlement agreement.
“We noted that north of Sydney all the way to the Queensland border there’s an agreement that limits Commonwealth fishing within 80 nautical milesof the shore,” Mr Young said.
Normally the state has a three nautical milefishing zone and the commonwealth the remainder – out to 200 nautical miles.
“We asked Dr Hendy for this OCS agreement area to be extended southwards to the Victorian border.This would push the Geelong Star out past the 80-year-old iconic game fishing areas,” he said.
The problem with extending the OCS agreement was that the AFMAhad a ban in placeon deep water trawling, which included the Geelong Star.
“For the OCS area to extend southwards we needed the ban on the Geelong Star to be waived by AFMA,” Mr Young said. “We lobbied AFMA and surprisingly, on May 1,the ban was lifted.”
However, at the moment there are no plans in place for the OCS agreement to be extended southwards despite theMBGALAC lobbying member for Eden-Monaro Dr Peter Hendy.
Mr Young emphasised that a complete ban on the Geelong Starwas and still is theclub’smain goal and that MBGALAC only attempted this other option as it was told a ban was out of the question.
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