Southern Bluefin Tuna quota slashed

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 11th June 2010

The Commonwealth Government has reduced the quota for fishing of the Southern Bluefin Tuna by 23.7% to 4015 tons, sparking frustration from the South Australian State Government, who administer almost all of the country’s bluefin fishing out of Port Lincoln.

With the northern bluefin populations crashing as a result of overfishing, and with the Japanese market prepared to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a single tuna, the southern bluefin is expected to take up much of the slack of its northern cousin.

“More than 90 percent of this national quota is caught near the Great Australian Bight by quota holders who operate from Port Lincoln,” said South Australian Fisheries Minister Michael O’Brien.

“This quota is then farmed in waters off the coast of Port Lincoln and this farming activity is regulated by PIRSA.”

“The recent decision to reduce the southern bluefin tuna quota has resulted in decreased farming activity, which will have significant social and economic consequences for the industry and the Port Lincoln community,” he said.

“If we were privy to the thoughts or conclusions of the Federal Government in advance of them sitting down with other nations then we might have actually ended up with a better outcome,” O’Brien told the ABC.

“I wouldn’t lay the blame at Tony’s feet but I think the Commonwealth bureaucracy have got to be more prepared to admit their state counterparts in the process and I think if that had happened the quota level that was ultimately struck internationally as it applies to South Australian waters would not have been as savage.”