Wollongong commercial fisherman Tony Virtu supports a two-year fishing ban on super trawler Abel Tasman, but is wary of new powers that enable the federal environment minister to impose such bans.
Legislation to stop the super trawler fishing in Commonwealth waters passed through the Senate after a marathon debate on Wednesday.
The new laws will give Environment Minister Tony Burke the power to impose the ban on the vessel for up to two years until extra scientific research is carried out.
University of Wollongong expert on fisheries law, Professor Warwick Gullett, said the new laws would be welcomed by environmentalists and recreational fishers, but not commercial fishers.
"The changes to the Environment Act give the environment and fisheries ministers more ability to make precautionary decisions," he said.
"Commercial fishers have been concerned for a number of years that fisheries agencies are becoming too precautionary, and making decisions that are not backed up by science.
"So they are concerned about these new laws which empower the ministers even further to make decisions based on environmental concerns."
Mr Virtu has been a commercial fisherman for 24 years, and said the industry was already strictly regulated and he was worried the new laws might result in further restrictions.
He was also concerned that the Abel Tasman could be operating in less than two years.
"In NSW there are 15 licences for purse seine [a method of fishing using a dragnet] fishermen - together we catch 1000 tonnes of fish a year," he said.
"The Abel Tasman alone will catch nearly 18,000 fish over two years - that's 18 years of stock for us. If this super trawler depletes fish stocks, that will jeopardise our careers."
Mr Virtu said the purse seine method allowed for sustainability.
"What we target is what we catch - we're only surface fishing, not trawling, so the way we fish is environmentally friendly," he said.
"Unlike trawling for huge numbers of fish like jack mackerel - which is a very slow-growing species.
"Scientists can only give guesstimates of what's out there.
"We need to look after our resources."
The Abel Tasman was brought to Australia as part of a joint venture between Seafish Tasmania and a Dutch company. Seafish Tasmania has vowed to fight the ban.
Prof Gullett, of the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, said the super trawler was a "floating, refrigerated factory" more than three times the size of most Australian commercial fishing vessels.