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Conserving southern bluefin tuna off Australia’s East Coast.

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Conserving Southern Bluefin Tuna off Australia’s East Coast

8 June 2006

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has announced the latest arrangements for conserving Southern bluefin tuna (SBT) stocks off the East-Coast of Australia.

AFMA Managing Director, Mr Richard McLoughlin, said each year AFMA draws on the latest scientific data to establish the ‘zones' in which precautionary management measures are applied to ensure the incidental catch of SBT is covered by Australia's allocation of quota.

“ Australia is part of an international agreement, through the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, which recognises SBT stocks are overfished. Australia is allocated a portion of the total international catch which is passed onto Australian fishers in the form of SBT quota.

“Due to the overfished status of SBT, Australia must ensure it plays its part in conserving the species by not exceeding our quota and breaking the international agreement.

“In doing so, we have to take a precautionary approach to managing the stock. It is too late for us to respond when fishers with no quota discard SBT.

“From 10 June, fishers wishing to fish inside these zones, must hold minimum quantities of SBT quota and must also carry an AFMA observer on-board their vessel. This approach has been in place for 6 years and has been endorsed by the fishery's Management Advisory Committee which includes industry, science and environmental representatives.

“The location of zones is based on a range of scientific information and data, industry information and the use of a sophisticated CSIRO model which analyses data such as sea temperatures and the movements of ‘tagged' SBT.

“To ensure the impact on the fishing industry is minimised as much as possible, AFMA undertakes a full review of the location of the zones every two weeks from May to October. That way we can quickly identify any changes in possible SBT movements that may allow the measures to be eased. Operators were also informed of the impending arrangements in January, so they had time to purchase quota and/or plan their fishing activity for the SBT season.

“To reduce the administrative cost on the industry, AFMA has developed a new approach this year whereby operators nominate if they wish to fish in the waters adjacent to NSW where the SBT zones are in place. With the cooperation of operators, we anticipate this could save up to $45,000 in management costs per year across the fishery” he said.

Statement ends/ 8 June 2006 Contact: Clare Hogan, AFMA Communications (02) 6272 4511 (W) or 0403 068 013 (M)

Page last updated 8 June, 2006

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