Fisheries officers from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and Primary Industries & Regions South Australia (PIRSA) have conducted a joint ‘at sea’ operation to inspect Commonwealth fishing operators involved in the harvest and farming of southern bluefin tuna (SBT).
Joint patrols are designed to facilitate the inspection of Commonwealth vessels engaged in the capture and towing of cages of southern bluefin tuna (SBT) off the coast of South Australia.
In Australia, commercial fishers use the purse seine fishing method to catch SBT and after being caught, fish are transferred to tow boat cages and slowly brought to farms located in the waters adjacent to Port Lincoln. After several months in the farms the fish are harvested.
Operators based in Port Lincoln capture in excess of 89 percent of Australia’s total allowable catch (TAC) of 6,165 tonnes. The TAC is set by AFMA after taking into account limits set by the international Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna.
The joint operation utilised PIRSA’s patrol vessel Southern Ranger to complete boardings on a number of vessels involved in the catching, chumming and towing of SBT, prior to them being transferred into farm cages. During the boardings fisheries officers inspected:
- Catch Monitoring and Catch Tagging forms
- Catch disposal scheme (CDS) documentation
- Vessel monitoring systems (VMS)
- Freezer holds
All vessels were fully compliant with no breaches detected. Throughout the patrol AFMA fisheries officers also assisted operators by providing advice and instruction on responsibilities in line with their fishing concessions. Working with industry in this way aims to maximise voluntary compliance with relevant legislation.
Information regarding the responsibilities for operators holding an SBT concession can be found in the AFMA’s Pre-season Briefing Guide 2019-20 on the AFMA website.