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Agreement to protect the future of the Southern Bluefin Tuna

The Australian Government worked with its regional partners to reach agreement on the future sustainability of the Southern Bluefin Tuna fishery.

Minister Tony Burke welcomed the outcome of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) in Korea, following very difficult negotiations.

“It was important that all countries agree on how to address the dangerously low stock levels, which were causing concern for the sustainability and future profitability of the industry,” Mr Burke said.

Members of the CCSBT include Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and the Fishing Entity of Taiwan with cooperating non-members the Philippines, South Africa and the European Community.

The commission plays a vital role in managing stock levels and met to discuss the latest scientific evidence.

It agreed that catch reductions will need to be sustained for a considerable period of time to allow the stock to be rebuilt.

In 2010, members will work on new international rules to apply from 2012, which would be designed to ensure the critical fishery has a long-term future.

In the meantime, key Southern Bluefin Tuna fishing countries, including Australia, will reduce average catch rates by 25 per cent over the next two years.

Australia’s average catch per year will be reduced from 5,265 tonnes to 4,015 tonnes over 2010 and 2011.

“The decision to further reduce Southern Bluefin catch was not taken lightly,” Minister Burke said.

“It was a tough decision which recognised that further international action was needed if we were to have a chance of saving this important fishery from collapse.”

Mr Burke said the Government recognised the outcome would have an initial impact on the existing $187 million Southern Bluefin Tuna industry in Australia, in particular the Port Lincoln fishing industry and wider community.

However, the Government will now work with industry to determine how the reductions would be spread over the two years.

“The agreement provides hope for the long-term profitability and sustainability of the stock,” Mr Burke said.

“If we had failed to take international action now, the entire Southern Bluefin Tuna industry could collapse, which would have a devastating impact on the Port Lincoln economy.

“We want to see a profitable Southern Bluefin Tuna industry continue in Australia for the long-term – it’s important for jobs and important for regional economies.”

by S. C.
29 october 2009, World News > Oceania

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