Fisheries officers from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (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 facilitate the inspection of Commonwealth vessels engaged in the capture and towing of cages of SBT off the coast of South Australia.
PIRSA’s patrol vessel Southern Ranger was used to board a number of vessels involved in the catching, chumming and towing of SBT, prior to them being transferred into farm cages. During the boarding’s fisheries officers inspected:
- Catch Monitoring and Catch Tagging forms
- Catch disposal scheme (CDS) documentation
- Vessel monitoring systems (VMS)
- Freezer holds
No compliance issues were detected and AFMA fisheries officers provided operators with advice and instruction on responsibilities in line with their fishing concessions. Working with industry in this way aims to maximise voluntary compliance with the rules and regulations of the fishery.
In Australia, purse seine fishing is used to target SBT as they swim in large schools. After they are caught the SBT are transferred to tow boat cages and slowly brought to farms located in the waters adjacent to Port Lincoln. The SBT are harvested after several months in the farms.
Operators based in Port Lincoln capture more than 89 percent of Australia’s total allowable catch (TAC) of 5,926.5 tonnes. The TAC is set by AFMA after taking into account limits set by the international Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna.
Information regarding the responsibilities for operators holding an SBT concession can be found on the AFMA website.