Carving up the last bluefin

Press release - 23 August, 2011
Sydney, 23 August 2011: This morning in Sydney, the regional bluefin tuna commission – the Commission for the Conservation of Bluefin Tuna (CCBST) - will meet to decide on fishing quotas for the critically endangered species.

Bluefin tuna is currently at around 5% of its original spawning stock biomass.  The CCBST conducts its own scientific assessments, but refuses to make the findings publicly available until quota decisions have already been made.

According to advice from the Australian Government’s own Threatened Species Scientific Committee, the only way for the species to recover to 20% of its original population within reasonable timeframes – as demanded by Australian fisheries principles – is to stop fishing immediately. However, with individual bluefin recorded as fetching over $300, 000 in Japanese fish markets, pressure from the industry for short-term financial gain is likely to overwhelm the desperate need for conservation.

“The southern bluefin fishery has been a case-study of mismanagement,” said Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Nathaniel Pelle. “Until the 1980s this species supported a thriving industry in Australia – including a cannery in NSW. Instead of going strong today, the species is on the brink of extinction. Continuing down the current path is deplorable.”

“As a country that regularly markets itself as having the best fisheries management in the world, the continued fishing of a critically endangered species is a significant blight to that claim” said Tooni Mahto, Australian Marine Conservation Society’s (AMCS) Marine Campaigns Officer. “Sadly, when it comes to southern bluefin tuna, the dollar speaks louder than the desire to shore up a strong future industry based on a healthy population of a top ocean predator.”

Greenpeace and AMCS call on the CCBST to immediately publish its scientific findings and to impose a zero catch quota on southern bluefin tuna until stocks have recovered to at least 20% of their original spawning stock.

The CCBST is made up of Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan. Its meeting will conclude on 27 August.

Contact:

Greenpeace Australia Pacific: James Lorenz +61 (0) 400 376 021

Australian Marine Conservation Society: Tooni Mahto +61 (0) 467 081 258

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