Southern Bluefin Tuna has often been controversial, because:
- It is very often confused with Atlantic Bluefin, a completely different species. It is Atlantic Bluefin which was the subject of the film “End of the Line”, and which was nominated for CITES listing in 2010. In contrast, Southern Bluefin Tuna has never been nominated for CITES, and was not mentioned in the “End of the Line.”
- Southern Bluefin Tuna is an international fishery which is managed by the Commission for the Conservation of SBT CCSBT). The main CCSBT countries are Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, NZ, nd Indonesia. Each CCSBT country is allocated an annual catch quota – which now must be fished by strict CCSBT rules.
- There is no doubt that large-scale illegal fishing in the past has resulted in the global Southern Bluefin Tuna being over-fished. The result is that international quotas and actual catches have been reduced. Australia’s quota has been reduced along with all other countries and SBT is now fished sustainably.
- The Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna quota is 98% used for the ranching of Southern Bluefin Tuna caught in the wild. The farming of fish is sometimes controversial, and although ranching is not farming, Southern Bluefin Tuna ranching is subject to the same scrutiny. Southern Bluefin Tuna ranching is based in South Australia (Port Lincoln) and operates under strict government rules, including regular environmental monitoring by the SA Government. Reports on the environmental performance of industry are publicly available (see www.pir.sa.gov.au).
- Except for Australia, all Southern Bluefin Tuna caught globally is by long-lining. It is long-lining which is involved with the controversy over by-catch of seabirds, sharks, and other species. As above, almost all the Australian quota is caught by the purse seine method, which is assessed by the Australian Government as having no impact on the environment (see www.environment.gov.au). The 2% of the Australian quota caught by long-lining operates under very strict rules to avoid by-catch, and has a high level of government observer coverage.
More Facts About Southern Bluefin Tuna Sustainability
- Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna
- Management of Southern Bluefin Tuna in Australia
- Ranching Sustainability under the SA Aquaculture Act
- SBT Are Often Confused With Other Tuna Species
- Strict Monitoring of Individual Tuna
- Tuna Breeding Stock Larger Than Quota Baseline
FAQs About SBT Sustainability
How are Southern Bluefin Tuna caught?
Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) are caught using purse seine in South Australia.
On the east coast of Australia they are caught by pelagic long liners.
In the past SBT were caught using the poling method, but this stopped in the early 1980’s.
Recreational fisherman also catch SBT using rod and reel.
Where are Southern Bluefin Tuna ranched or farmed?
Southern Bluefin Tuna are ranched in the pristine waters of the Lower Spencer Gulf, South Australia.
They are held offshore in pontoons on lease sites, which are between 10km and 40km from Port Lincoln.
Locations of lease sites can be obtained from the Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) public register.
What do Southern Bluefin Tuna eat?
Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) eat many different kinds of baitfish.
In the ranched environment, approximately 80% of the diet fed to SBT are locally caught Sardines.
Sardines are sustainably harvested from waters in Spencer Gulf and the Great Australian Bight. They are also a natural food source for tuna in the wild.
Remaining dietary requirements for SBT are met through imported baitfish.
Fish are fed a mixture of frozen and fresh baitfish. Feed may be given to SBT through frozen block feeding, syphoning, bait spinners, shovel or though a shore controlled automated bait delivery system.