Cooperation leads to Southern bluefin tuna joint patrol success
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA) have recently conducted a joint, at-sea operation, focused on compliance and monitoring of Commonwealth vessels engaged in the capture of Southern bluefin tuna in waters off South Australia.
In Australia, commercial fishers employ the purse seine fishing method to catch Southern bluefin tuna. Once caught, fish are transferred to cages and slowly towed to farm pens located in the waters adjacent to Port Lincoln. After several months of growth in the farm pens the fish are harvested.
Historically, Port Lincoln based operators have caught more than 90 per cent of Australia’s annual total allowable catch. Australia’s total allowable catch is set by AFMA using information provided by scientists, the fishery manager and industry members and in light of global catch limits set by the international Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). The 2022–23 Australian total allowable catch is 5,926.5 tonnes.
The joint operation used PIRSA’s patrol vessel Southern Ranger to board several vessels involved in the process of purse seining, transferring or towing farms to Port Lincoln. During these boarding’s fisheries officers inspected:
- catch monitoring and catch tagging forms
- catch disposal scheme documentation
- vessel monitoring systems, and
- freezer holds.
All vessels boarded were fully compliant with no breaches detected. Throughout the patrol 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 a Southern bluefin tuna concession can be found on the concession holders and SFR conditions page on the AFMA website.