Puzzling Decision on Southern Bluefin Tuna

Australia, 10-10-2005

Concern over the stock levels of Southern Bluefin Tuna continues to escalate after a puzzling decision by the Federal Environment Minister, Ian Campbell.

Mr Campell had received advice that the Tuna’s stocks have fallen to just 3% of their 1960 levels. Despite this the SBFT fishery had been declared “an approved wildlife trade operation”. Mr Campell was also quoted as saying that even an instant cessation of fishing for the species would not guarantee its survival, due to the low stock level.

Australia will not reduce their own catch levels of SBFT, currently standing at 5,265 tons a year. The worldwide catch stands at 16,000 tons.

Any move to cut Australia’s quota would limit Australia’s ability to influence other countries on the issue was the view of NSW Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald.

The fishery is worth 280 million dollars a year to Australia.

If the Southern Bluefin Tuna is fished to extinction, it will be the among the first large fish species to be wiped out completely by commercial fishing.