The Port Lincoln tuna industry welcomes the announcement of a nine per cent increase to Australia’s southern bluefin tuna (SBT) quota for the next three years.
The quota increase will take the total catch limit from 5665 tonnes to 6165 tonnes and will apply for three years starting in 2018.
Scientists announced the significant catch quota increase at a meeting of the Commission for the Conservation for Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) in Indonesia earlier this month.
The quota increase was decided by the CCSBT scientific committee, which includes an international independent scientific panel.
Australian SBT Industry Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess said the Australian quota had now increased by 54 per cent since its lowest ever point of 4015 tonnes in 2011.
It was in 2011 that the scientists adopted a new model to assess the stock.
“The Port Lincoln community will always remember the deep quota cuts which have led to the current recovery in the stock.
“Those cuts led to receivership and a long period of hardship, (but) what the Port Lincoln community did was just get on with it – and used their engineering and fishing skills to invent global tuna farming,” Mr Jeffriess said.
He said the continued quota increases since 2011 were a tribute to the pioneers who “maintained confidence” in the recovery of the industry and tuna stock.
The last total allowable catch increase was seen in 2014 with close to a 10 per cent quota increase for the 2014-15 season
“The most important thing about the continued quota increases is that there is no longer any doubt that the SBT stocks are strong, and will get even stronger.”
Mr Jeffriess said up until the 2017 stock assessment, there had always been doubts among experts and financial institutions whether the recovery in stocks was sustainable.
The quota increase was expected among many, including assistant water resources minister Anne Ruston who met with industry representatives in Port Lincoln last month.
Following her meeting she said she was confident of an increase.
Ms Ruston said the increase in stock was a reflection of the responsible behaviour of the industry and its willingness to take cuts in the past for the benefit of the species and the industry.