PERSONALLY concerned about the effect it might have on Portland’s tuna-based tourism, Glenelg Shire mayor Gilbert Wilson has flagged the possibility that the shire may join in lobbying efforts to prevent a giant foreign trawler from harvesting tonnes of baitfish in the Southern Ocean.“It’s a great concern for both recreational and commercial fishing,” Cr Wilson said.
On Saturday, more than 200 boats formed a flotilla in Tasmania’s River Derwent to protest against the controversial 142-metre-long MV Margiris, which is due to enter Australian waters this month and dock initially in Devonport, although the vessel’s opponents charge it may need larger and better facilities like those in Portland.
Once it goes to work it will take a 13,800-tonne baitfish quota of the very jack mackerel and redbait that attract tuna (and hundreds of avid tuna fishers) every year to the Portland community, providing a huge tourism revenue boost.
“It would be better if this matter were to go through the council process,” Cr Wilson said. “It may come up soon on council’s agenda. Or, since we are in caretaker mode from mid-September, it might be more appropriate to leave it for the next council to deal with.”
He emphasised, though, that the community could ill-afford to jeopardise such a longstanding industry.
Read more in Monday’s edition of the Portland Observer.