Federal Court Justice John Logan says the federal government is within its rights to reject factory freezer trawler the Abel Tasman.
The controversial super trawler Abel Tasman won’t operate in Australia after its owners lost a challenge in the federal court.
Justice John Logan said former environment minister Tony Burke was within his rights to ban the factory freezer trawler, which would have had uncertain impacts on small pelagic fish.
“In a maritime circles, it is considered unlucky to change the name of a ship after she has first sailed,” Justice Logan said in his written judgment, handed down in Brisbane.
“The vessel has, in her lifetime, undergone several such changes of name … some may consider that there’s substance in the maritime superstition.”
The 9500-tonne, 143 metre fishing boat, formerly called Margiris, came to Australia in 2012 to fish a 16,000-tonne quota that operator Seafish Tasmania holds for mackerel and redbait.
Later that year, it was banned by former federal environment minister Tony Burke for two years, following public backlash.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt criticised Mr Burke for flip flopping on the issue, but welcomed the federal court ruling.
“The government supports sustainable fisheries management and sustainable fisheries practices,” Mr Hunt said.
The chief executive of Seafish Tasmania has indicated to Mr Hunt they have no plans or intention to bring back the trawler.
The company argued in court that fears about irreparable environmental damage were unfounded and new legislation which banned the trawler was invalid.
Rebecca Hubbard, from Environment Tasmania which is part of the Stop the Trawler Alliance, says the outcome is a relief but only offers some reprieve as the temporary ban will expire in November.
She urged Mr Hunt to permanently ban all super trawlers from Australian waters.
“Today’s decision obviously verifies that the Australian government can act to legislate a permanent ban,” she told AAP.
“But the ban is still under threat of being removed.”
She says industrial fishing has left a legacy of overfishing and environmental damage around the world and Australia should take a stand and show leadership on this issue.
Comment has been sought from Seafish Tasmania.