Stocks of Southern Bluefin Tuna and Bigeye Tuna have increased, shows report

The Australian longline tuna industry has welcomed an Australian government assessment showing stocks of Southern Bluefin Tuna and Bigeye Tuna have increased over the last two years.

“Global stock levels of Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) have moved from a depleted to recovering status after more than 20 years,” says Tuna Australia CEO David Ellis.

“And Bigeye Tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean have gone from a depleted status in 2016 to return to being sustainable.

“Australia has a good record in the sustainable management of its tuna fisheries and continually strives to improve this to ensure tuna stocks remain healthy,” Ellis says.

Fish stocks reports

The assessments are highlighted in The 2018 Status of Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) Reports coordinated and managed by the Australian Government’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC).

The SAFS Reports evaluate the stock levels of 120 species, representing the majority of Australian-caught fish consumed by Australians. Of the 406 stocks assessed, 254 stocks (85 percent) was assessed as sustainable.

A new addition to the 2018 SAFS Reports is work that shows how stocks including SBT have transitioned over time (2014–2018).

The SBT assessment shows that there’s clear progress towards the rebuilding target set by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), which aims for recovery of the biological stock to 20 percent of unfished biomass by 2035.

Making progress

The improvements seen in SBT and Bigeye Tuna stocks show that recovery management plans have and are working, says Crispian Ashby, General Manager, Research and Investment, FRDC.

“The combined efforts of fisheries managers and industry across the species range (often shared by several countries) have allowed the stocks to rebuild, including through engagement through regional fisheries management organisations.

“They have brought nations together for a common purpose and have shown the benefits of regional cooperation and the management organisations. Long term, these recoveries will also provide regional communities with greater opportunities for future development.”

The increase in SBT and Bigeye Tuna stocks provides hope for other tuna species says Ashby.

“These are great results for tunas more generally as it shows that if stock declines are evident, and countries can come together to put in place appropriate management and recovery plans they can reverse and change the future for all the species.”

The SAFS Reports were launched by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Richard Colbeck, on Wednesday 6 March at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Outlook Conference.

“This is more hard evidence of the responsible management delivering powerful returns to the Australian community and shows why locking our fishers out of these resources is simply regressive and anti-science,” he said in the opening address.

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