Possible Geelong Star sighting off Bermagui

SUPER TRAWLER: The large fishing vessel spotted at the Bait Hole off Bermagui on Wednesday by recreational fishermen.

SUPER TRAWLER: The large fishing vessel spotted at the Bait Hole off Bermagui on Wednesday by recreational fishermen.

Recreational game fishermen off Bermagui on Wednesday allegedly sighted a large fishing vessel they believed was the controversial super trawler Geelong Star.

The vessel had been banned from local Bermagui-Narooma waters for six months after dolphins were killed in its nets on previous fishing trips.

The large vessel was spotted Wednesday morning at the “Bait Hole” located just north of Bermagui on the edge of the continental shelf.

Comments were made on VHF Channel 22 by the fishermen that the mystery vessel did not register on their on-board AIS vessel identification systems.

This is an issue which has been raised with the Geelong Star’s operation.

Comments were made on VHF Channel 22 by the fishermen that the mystery vessel did not register on their on-board AIS vessel identification systems.

Commercial fishermen in Bermagui were concerned that the 91-metre mid-water trawler that targets species such as Jack Mackerel and Cowan Young was operating in the vicinity of their fixed traps.

There is another meeting of concerned residents and fishermen at the Merimbula Game Fishing Club tonight at 6.30pm.

Dr Simon Allen will give a presentation on industrial fishing along the Australian coast and its environmental impact. 

Dr Allen of the University of Western Australia in Perth is a marine mammal and dolphin behaviour expert.

He has been conducting research on dolphin behaviour and the interactions between marine mammals and humans through tourism, coastal development and fisheries for 20 years.

His work includes research at Port Stephens (NSW), Shark Bay, the Pilbara and Kimberley coasts (WA), and as far afield as California (USA) and Okinawa (Japan).

His work has included research on a range of fishing trawlers, assessing bycatch and proposing mitigation measures.

On Friday, Dr Allen will be sharing his understanding of the marine species and environmental issues associated with industrial fishing of the sort being undertaken by the Geelong Star.

The super trawler Geelong Star. Photo supplied by Small Pelagic Fishery Industry Association

The super trawler Geelong Star. Photo supplied by Small Pelagic Fishery Industry Association

On December 14 it was reported on the Narooma News website that the “Stop the Trawler” organisation feared the super trawler would return to the Far South Coast once its six-month ban ended.

A spokesperson for the Small Pelagic Fishery Industry Association said the Geelong Star would stay away from game fishing competitions, of which two will be held on the Far South Coast in the next three weeks.

“If the vessel does fish off the South Coast of NSW in the future, the operators have given an under-taking to recreational fishing representatives to keep away from game fishing competitions,” the spokesperson said.

The Tollgate Islands Classic, hosted by the Batemans Bay Game Fishing Club, is from January 15 to 17 and the Bermagui Bluewater Classic is from January 23 to 25.

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