International convention aims to conserve valuable tuna fishery
3 September 2004
The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) is convening a meeting of international scientists in Cheju in the Republic of Korea next week to comprehensively assess the state of the stock for the first time in four years.
"We are at a very crucial stage in trying to refine the scientific analysis we have been working on for over two years and develop new management strategies," said New Zealand Commissioner to CCSBT, Emma Waterhouse from the Ministry of Fisheries. She expects the scientific information to provide a better picture of how well the stock is doing and guidance on setting a global quota. .
CCSBT member countries (New Zealand, Australia, Japan, The Republic of Korea and Taiwan) catch around 14,000 tonnes of southern bluefin tuna globally each year. This includes New Zealand's share of 420 tonnes, which generates over $11 million a year in exports.
Ms Waterhouse said that in the past New Zealand has accepted a comparatively small catch allocation (Australia's is 5,265, Japan's 6,065, and Taiwan and Korea both have 1,140) because we agreed to constrain the development of our southern bluefin tuna fishery as part of New Zealand's contribution to the conservation of the species.
Ministry of Fisheries scientist Dr. Talbot Murray said that New Zealand has always been concerned about conserving southern bluefin tuna stock, which came under serious threat in the 1980s. It had been heavily fished in the preceding two decades and, although corrective action was taken by New Zealand, Australia and Japan, it was not only 1988 that drastic cuts of 50-60 percent were made.
"Quota cuts appear to have stabilised the stock decline, but we need to confirm that the situation has not worsened," said Dr Murray.
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