ETBF at a glance

The Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF) extends from Cape York, Queensland, to the South Australian/Victorian border and includes waters around Lord Howe and Norfolk Island and the high seas area under the region of concern of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

Major ports used by the fleet include Cairns, Mooloolaba, Coffs Harbour, Ulladulla and various other New South Wales south coast ports.

For more detailed information see fishing in the ETBF.

At a glance
Quota Species and Total Allowable Commercial Catch The quota species and Total Allowable Commercial Catch for the 2014-15 fishing season are:

Species TACC (t)
Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alulunga) 2500
Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus) 1056
Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares) 2200
Broadbill Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) 1378
Striped Marlin (Tetrapturus audux) 351

See also: Historical Total Allowable Commercial Catch for the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery

Fishing Season The ETBF fishing season commences on 1 March and lasts for 12 months concluding on the last day of February in the following year.
Fishing Techniques Pelagic longline, minor line (handline, troll, rod and reel)
No. Concessions in 2012 105 boat Statutory Fishing Rights;
131 minor line Statutory Fishing Fights;
1,075,571 quota Statutory Fishing Rights for each quota species; and
11 Coral Sea Zone Statutory Fishing Rights
No. of Active Vessels in 2012 44 longline vessels and 7 minorline vessels
Estimated Catch and Value (ABARES fishery status reports 2012) Yellowfin tuna: 1,259 t ($A 12.6 million)
Bigeye tuna: 553 t ($A 5.4 million)
Albacore tuna: 708 t ($A 1.8 million)
Striped marlin: 262 t ($A 1.4 million)
Broadbill swordfish: 1,157 t ($A 5.9 million)Total 3,939 t ($A 27.1 million)
Main Markets
  • Fresh product – Domestic, Japan, United States
  • Frozen product – Europe, American Samoa, Thailand
  • Canned Albacore – Indonesia
Stock Status (ABARES fishery status reports 2012) Stock assessments are conducted on the full stock for each quota species which encompasses the broader Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

  • Albacore – not overfished and not subject to overfishing
  • Bigeye – not overfished but is subject to overfishing
  • Yellowfin – not overfished and not subject to overfishing
  • Broadbill Swordfish – not overfished and not subject to overfishing
  • Striped Marlin – not overfished and not subject to overfishing
Management Plan The ETBF Management Plan 2010 was accepted in January 2011 and came into effect on 1 March 2011.
Environmental Strategic Assessment The ETBF has previously been granted export approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which is due to expire on 26 February 2014. The fishery has been formally accredited following a full strategic assessment of the fishery under the quota-based management Plan in relation to the protected species provisions of Part 13 and the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A under the EPBC Act.
Management Method Under the ETBF management Plan 2011, the ETBF is managed through output controls with a Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) limit set for each of the five species. The five quota species in the ETBF are Albacore Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Broadbill Swordfish and Striped Marlin. All operators in the ETBF have been granted statutory fishing rights that allow them to fish in the fishery and catch a portion of the TACC for each quota species. These fishing rights are fully transferable and are also known as Individually Transferable Quota’s. Under these arrangements each fisher is limited to catching up to the amount of quota that they hold and the whole fishery is limited to the TACC that is set each season.
Consultative Mechanism The Tropical Tuna Management Advisory Committee (TTMAC) is the main group that discusses and provides advice on the management of the ETBF. The Tropical Tuna Resource Assessment Group (TTRAG) provides the main research and scientific advice for the fishery.
International Management Australia is a member of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and participates in meetings as part of the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). The WCPFC is responsible for the management of tuna and billfish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, as well as the impacts of fishing on the wider ecosystem. The FFA is an advisory body comprised of 17 Pacific Island Nations that provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members about their tuna resources. Australia implements the management measures agreed at WCPFC meetings, that protect the long-term sustainability of the tuna and billfish stocks and the wider marine ecosystem in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
Bycatch and discarding AFMA has an Australian Tuna and Billfish Bycatch and Discarding Workplan. The Workplan outlines ways to minimise the species at high risk of being caught as bycatch within the fishery. These species have been identified through the Ecological Risk Assessment framework and can include; Threatened, Endangered and Protected (TEP) species, sharks and discarding of quota species. For more information see Bycatch and Discarding.