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Minister breaches Act on southern bluefin tuna.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA (05/461) TUESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2005 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS SPOKESPERSON FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

MINISTER BREACHES ACT ON SOUTHERN BLUEFIN TUNA The Democrats have accused the federal Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell of breaching his own Act by ignoring advice from his scientific committee and refusing to list the southern bluefin tuna as a threatened species.

Democrats Environment spokesperson, Senator Andrew Bartlett, said Senator Campbell made the extraordinary statement that listing the fish as a threatened species "would be detrimental to its survival".

"Senator Campbell's decision to go against the advice of his scientific committee on management of Australia's most profitable export fish shows a Government that is unwilling to tackle difficult issues, and long-term will put the future of the southern bluefin tuna fishery at great risk."

The Government's Threatened Species Scientific Committee found that only as little as 3% of the stocks that existed in 1960 still remain and the species meets the criteria for Federal endangered species listing.

"A huge industry, and in the case of South Australia's Port Lincoln, whole communities ride on the back of this endangered species. For the Federal Government to continue its too-hard-basket approach not only jeopardises the future of the fishery but of many coastal communities."

"To claim that the best chance we have to conserve this species is to keep actively fishing a third of the global quota is a very long bow to draw. Australia can claim quota under the international treaty charged with managing the drastically declining species, but why not determine our quota breeding stocks and leave it in the sea? Especially as it has declined to a point where the Minister's own scientists have stated it should now be illegal to fish it."

"Senator Campbell has indicated Australia plays a powerful role in international management. If he is so willing to throw our environmental laws out the window in making this decision, he must be very confident he can effectively manage this fishery in international forums.

We look forward to seeing his experience with whales translated into action on an important domestic industry which, to date, has continually failed the test of self-management."

The TSSC's advice can be found here http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/southern-bluefin-tuna.html

Media contact - Senator Andrew Bartlett - 0418 743 789