Scallopers call for an exemption

ONE of the men who was instrumental in bringing turtle exclusion devices (TED) to Bundaberg trawlers has backed the idea of getting rid of them in the scallop fishery.

A trawler man for more than 50 years, John Olsen was one of the fishers who implemented the TEDs on Australian trawlers after the devices were brought over from America.

The experienced fisher has trawled up and down the east coast of Australia and said that in his vast experience, scallop trawlers do not need TEDs because turtles are not out in the off-shore scallop fishery.

“The reason for no TEDs is crystal clear,” he said.

“There are simply no turtles out there.

“I’ve done a lot of scalloping out there and I’ve never caught one.”

Mr Olsen said he could understand the need for the devices in the in-shore prawn fishery.

“They’ve (the government) used a very big tar brush over all fishery, over the whole of Queensland, and it’s been a case of overkill,” he said.

The former fisher said he could “not envision” a device that will exclude turtles but work well on a scallop trawler.

“Legislation could be amended and should be amended that will allow the scallop fishery to continue in a productive manner,” Mr Olsen said.

Queensland Seafood Industry Association trawl chair Stephen Murphy said that although TEDs were frustrating when trawling for scallops, it was impossible to have a fishery without them.

“If the Queensland fishing industry said no, we’re not using TEDs, we’d lose our export accreditation,” he said.

“We’re never going to go back to a fishery without them.”

He encouraged fishers who had ideas about how to improve the devices to contact Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries.

He said there was funding available to test modifications or new ideas about devices.

From the mid-1970s to 2000 the number of nesting loggerhead females in eastern Australia decreased from 3500 down to 500.

Since 2000 the previous long-term decline in nesting loggerhead turtle numbers has reversed and it is estimated female loggerhead turtle numbers would be about 600.

Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said a factor contributing to the population turnaround was the push for TEDs.

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