Greenpeace has stopped a controversial super-trawler leaving the Netherlands en route to Australia.

The environmental group says its climbers and divers have sabotaged the 140 metre FV Margiris in the Dutch port of IJmuiden.

Activists put a chain around the ship's propeller and installed themselves on the cables between the ship and the quay in the early morning attack on Thursday.

The ship is due to leave for Devonport in Tasmania to begin trawling for more than 17,000 tons of fish in Australian waters from August if its operators receive government approval.


"Wherever this ship has gone it has destroyed fish stocks and ruined fishermen's livelihoods," Greenpeace oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said in a statement.

"Along with a broad cross-section of the community that has declared the Margiris unwelcome, we will be ramping up efforts to stop it doing the same in Australian waters."

The ship's imminent arrival has caused a major stir in Tasmania.

A petition against its use has attracted thousands of signatures, with celebrities such as singer Guy Sebastian and surfer Kelly Slater jumping on board.

The Greens, who have likened the Margiris to a vacuum cleaner for the oceans, want it banned and Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie earlier this week urged Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to do likewise.

Greenpeace has previously targeted the Margiris, painting the word "plunder" on its side earlier this year off the coast of Africa.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority says it is yet to receive an application from seafood company Seafish Tasmania to operate the trawler.

The company says it is confident of approval and on-board observers will ensure it complies with the rules.