Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has signed the interim declaration to prevent the super trawler until the Government determines the environmental impacts of the proposed operations.

The interim declaration will prevent the Abel Tasman from operating as a freezing and processing vessel supplied by other vessels in the Small Pelagic Fishery.

“I have signed the interim declaration that will prevent, for an initial period of 60 days, the Abel Tasman processing fish caught by other vessels in the Small Pelagic Fishery,” Mr Burke said.

“During this time affected businesses have a natural justice opportunity to respond before I make a decision on whether there should be a ban for up to two years.

Recently the operators of the Abel Tasman submitted a new proposal to use the trawler as a processing vessel that is supplied with small pelagic fish by other smaller fishing vessels operating in the Small Pelagic Fishery.

“The Federal Fisheries Minister, Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig, and I have agreed that the proposal is a new commercial fishing activity and that there is uncertainty about its environmental impact. We have also agreed that it is appropriate to prohibit the operation for 60 days whilst consultation with affected parties about the effect of making a final declaration takes place,” Mr Burke said.

“I have made an interim declaration that a commercial fishing activity which is a fish processing activity or uses the mid-water trawl method to catch quota species in the Small Pelagic Fishery by a vessel that has storage capacity of over 1600 tonnes is a declared fishing activity.