ALL southern bluefin tuna fishing countries met for the final time in Japan last week before major quota decisions will be made in Australia next year.
The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) meeting will be held in Adelaide for the first time, and the meeting will decide the quota for the tuna industry until 2017.
Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess said the meeting in Adelaide next year would make the first ever decision on long-term quota.
"Up until now, the quotas have only ever been set for one to two years," he said.
"The 2013 meeting will set the final quotas for 2014, and also for the three years 2015 to 2017.
"The quota is supposed to be set totally on scientific advice ... it will hopefully be the first ever quota set by CCSBT without major political interference."
Mr Jeffriess said the quota set in 2009, which led to a dramatic cut for Port Lincoln tuna fishers, was largely based on free trade agreements, and power plays within Australia's federal government cabinet.
He said outcomes last year in relation to quota meant the quota was set by disputes between East Asian countries, which were unrelated to southern bluefin tuna.
"These disputes reduced the quota recommended by the scientific model," he said.
"At the 2012 meeting, Australian industry emphasised the importance of setting the quotas based on science, and having longer-term quotas."
Mr Jeffriess said southern bluefin tuna industries in all seven of the fisheries' countries have suffered badly from instability surrounding the fisheries quota.
"Port Lincoln is a good example, because of the large investment in ranching and onshore infrastructure," he said.
"There are similar regions in Japan, which have had to deal with big cuts in catches, and with having to invest in large high seas boats.
"Port Lincoln has been able to survive because of the capacity to innovate, improvise and adapt.
"The strong recovery in the SBT stock, now shown in the science, is reason to be confident about the future."
The commonwealth and South Australian governments must now ensure a level international playing field for Australia's southern bluefin tuna industry to continue to invest, Mr Jeffriess said.
"Again, we do not want government money, just the policy support that a high value added, high productivity and regional industry can justify.
"What governments do in their 2013 policy decisions will clearly show whether that support is there or not."