Unwelcome arrival

Published: Friday 15 October 2004

The 106-metre long Veronica, one of the world's biggest trawlers with three factories on board, is heading for Australia. However, gauging the popular reaction, not everyone is enthusiastic about the new arrival. The new South Wales and South Australian state governments have already announced a ban preventing its entry. The federal government has also anounced a freeze on the issue of new fishing permits for waters east and south of the continent.

Talks of Veronica's entry into Australia arose when its owner, Irish fishing tycoon Kevin McHugh, decided to sell Veronica to his Australian partners, Veronica Sea Fish. Fishermen and conservationists protested against this move as they feared that the vessel would kill large numbers of pelagic fish, a key link in the ocean food chain.

The plan is also facing severe opposition from the tuna industry, which fears the super-trawler will target mackerel and pilchards in the Great Australian Bight, tuna's prime food source. Veronica Sea Fish has however dismissed concerns about the ship's adverse impact on marine life and said it would continue to research the viability of operating in Australian waters. Fisheries minister Ian Macdonald said the Australian Fisheries Management Authority will review the freeze on permits again in November.

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