If you are a fan of developing sustainable fishing, then super-trawlers are probably not something you smile about. Take a look at the image below from the Greenpeace campaign against the Abel Tasman (FV Margiris) - the world's second largest fishing vessel. Weighing in at a some 9 ,500 GT, this trawler-come-factory ship invoked the anger of NGO's and Australians (whose waters she was due to fish in) who saw the vessel as a huge threat to marine biodiversity. A huge campaign ensued. The battle lines drawn. No super trawlers. Not here. Not anywhere. Just last year, the Abel Tasman was banned from fishing in Australian waters for two years. Victory for the NGOs. But was it the right thing to do?
Fisheries scientists Dr Sean Tracey and colleagues from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and the University of Tasmania, Australia challenge the idea that the trawler was inherently a 'bad thing'. They argue that the campaigns was biased, presenting an argument based on only the worst examples of trawlers over-exploiting fish and damaging the ecosystem. What the campaigns and the public forgot was the importance of scientifically backed active management.
It's a good point. So, can super-trawlers be managed to fish efficiently without destroying the marine ecosystem?
The article - published in Fisheries which is produced by the American Fisheries Society - is likely to inflame many readers, but it is certainly worth following it through to the end. It is open access... here's the link (page 345 - or the 7th page of the PDF document).