Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Southern bluefin tuna listed as conservation dependent

Media release
24 November 2010

The southern bluefin tuna will receive national protection after federal environment minister Tony Burke listed the species under national environment law.

“I have taken the advice of the independent Threatened Species Scientific Committee and listed southern bluefin tuna under the category it was nominated for—conservation dependent.

“The species has declined in the past, and while ongoing improvements in management measures are helping to stabilise the population, the breeding population is still considered to be less than eight per cent of unfished levels.

“This listing will not prevent or restrict fishing or create additional regulatory burden on the industry. Fishing can continue under existing arrangements but it will now be a legal requirement that the species remain under a plan of management that includes actions to stop its decline and support its long‑term recovery.

“Australia’s tuna fishers are already working towards sustainable management, such a plan is already in place.”

Mr Burke said that Australia was also involved with the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna—the group of countries that sets global southern bluefin tuna catch levels and oversees the global management of the species.

“Listing the southern bluefin tuna in a category that allows ongoing sustainable fishing ensures Australia continues to be an important voice for its international management and conservation,” Mr Burke said.

“Because of its highly migratory nature, a global management strategy is the only way to help the recovery of southern bluefin tuna. A ban on southern bluefin tuna fishing in Australia would not necessarily result in a reduction of global catch, as the global catch limit may not change.”

Mr Burke said that as a member nation of the international commission, Australia supported recent management measures the commission put in place.

“These measures included agreement to develop a strategy to rebuild the population, and to reduce the global catch of southern bluefin tuna by 20 per cent over 2010 and 2011 seasons,” Mr Burke said.

“And at the 2010 Commission meeting in October, member countries re-affirmed their commitment to adopt and implement a strategy to rebuild the southern bluefin tuna spawning stock in 2011, which will be used to set future global total allowable catch for 2012 and beyond.”