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Southern Bluefin Tuna Stock Strong as New Season Starts

07 December 2012

AUSTRALIA - Australia’s commercial Southern Bluefin Tuna fishing season kicked off on Saturday amid signs that the species is rebuilding well.

The catch limit for the 2012-13 season has been increased by three per cent from last season to 4698 tonnes following advice from the international Southern Bluefin Tuna commission that the stock is improving. The most recent scientific assessment, conducted last year, showed that at current catch levels the species will continue rebuilding.

This season the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) will introduce new monitoring arrangements for Southern Bluefin Tuna catches to measure operators’ catches against quota. A greater sample size (100 fish larger than 10 kilograms) will be used to calculate the total catch. In coming years new high-tech video technology will be used to further improve catch monitoring.

AFMA CEO Dr James Findlay said that it was great to see the stock rebuilding following cooperative efforts by government, the fishing industry, scientists, recreational fishers and environmental organisations.

“We’ve all put a lot of work into this and it’s really positive to see that our cooperation is paying off and we’re seeing real improvements in the tuna population,” Dr Findlay said.

“In addition there has been some strong collaboration between the various countries that have an interest in Southern Bluefin Tuna; including Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia.”

In other good news for the industry, research into tuna farming practices appears to be paying off with Southern Bluefin Tuna survival rates increasing. There has been a 10 per cent drop in farmed tuna deaths which has already saved the industry close to 20 million dollars over the past twelve months. It is hoped that recent research into offshore farming will lead to further improvements in results.

The Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna industry mostly fish using a purse seine net which encloses a school of fish, and, rather than being brought on board, the fish are held in a large potoon which is towed to waters near Port Lincoln and kept in floating cages anchored to the ocean floor. The tuna are then fed for several months and sold direct to Japanese markets as frozen or chilled fish.

The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna is the international organisation responsible for the management of Southern Bluefin Tuna. The commission’s objective is to ensure, through appropriate management, the conservation and optimum utilisation of Southern Bluefin Tuna. Members of the extended commission are Australia, the Fishing Entity of Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand.

TheFishSite News Desk

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