Sydney - Greenpeace activists on Thursday locked themselves onto port equipment in Australia to prevent a massive super-trawler docking amid controversy about its alleged history of overfishing.
The 9 500-ton FV Margiris was intercepted by a Greenpeace dinghy as it approached Port Lincoln in South Australia state, but activists were prevented from boarding and were forced away by a pilot ship from the port.
"The Greenpeace activists managed to get an inflatable [boat] between the pilot ship and the Margiris itself but pretty much got squashed out of the way pretty sharpish," said Greenpeace spokesperson James Lorenz.
The 143m Margiris sparked protests among conservation groups and local fisherman when it was announced earlier this year that it would come to fish off Tasmania.
Lorenz said the Lithuanian-flagged ship headed to port after dodging the Greenpeace dinghy but was unable to dock, with a number of activists locked onto the port's equipment.
"Currently there are activists who are locked onto the side of the port, meaning that the Margiris can't actually dock. It's pulled back and is circling at the moment," he said.
"We're in a pretty fluid situation and still hoping that they won't be able to dock."
According to local media reports, the Margiris is expected to stay in Port Lincoln for five days to be re-flagged as an Australian vessel, and undergo maintenance and government checks.
Greenpeace has led protests against the super-trawler, chaining its propellers and suspending demonstrators from the ship as it prepared to leave the Netherlands for Australia in June.
Greenpeace Oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said trawlers like the Margiris "literally vacuum up entire schools of fish", amid concerns about the depletion of southern fish stocks and the impact on sea birds, seals and dolphins.
"You could fly a jumbo jet through the opening of its net with room to spare," Pelle added in a statement.
"They have overfished European waters, collapsed fisheries in the South Pacific, and devastated fishing communities in West Africa. We simply can't let the same thing happen in Australia."
Canberra is yet to give final approval for the Margiris to fish Australian waters, but the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has dismissed concerns about over-fishing.
AFMA said the trawler would be allowed to catch just 10% of available fish and would have little if any impact on the broader eco-system.