Tuna catch boost

FUTURE stability for the Australian southern bluefin tuna industry has been secured after the national allocation for the species, for the 2018 to 2020 period, was increased by 500 tonnes to 6165 tonnes. 

Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association chief executive Brian Jeffriess said the allocation increase gave stability for the Australian industry, of which 90 per cent is in Port Lincoln.

The increase, which comes into effect in December next year and applies for three years, was announced following a meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) last week. 

The commission covers all major southern bluefin tuna catching countries, including Australia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and New Zealand, only China remains outside the commission.

Mr Jeffriess said Australia’s share of future changes in the global quota after 2020, would be 35.5 per cent. 

He said the original Australian quota started at 14,500 tonnes in 1984, which meant the increase this week to 6165 tonnes was just 42 per cent of the 1984 quota. 

“Since 1984, small South Australian fishing businesses have bought 90 per cent of the shares in the Australian quota from other states and from other SA quota owners,” Mr Jeffriess said. 

The total CCSBT quota is set every three years, based on a scientific model which takes into account the latest data on the global fishery.

“The total CCSBT quota is then allocated between member countries, based on set of rules and on special quotas for new entrants to the agreement,” Mr Jeffriess said. 

“For the 2018 to 2020 period, the scientific advice was that the total CCSBT quota should be increased by 3000 tonnes, the maximum amount allowed under the agreement at one time.”

The majority of the 3000 tonne increase was allocated to new CCSBT members, Indonesia and South Africa, and to Japan under a 2006 agreement. 

The “special, one-off allocations” to Indonesia, South Africa, Australia and Japan reflected their importance in the global fishery and that they caught tuna in their own fishing zones.

“The decisions finally provide real longer-term stability to the Australian southern bluefin tuna industry to continue to develop as a mix of mostly high value added farming plus a smaller longline sector,” he said.