Stories sound better from a negative perspective – more untruth makes it into the public domain

An article written by a Hobart correspondent for Faifax Media has negatively twisted what is an incredibly positive story about resilient stock recovery.

The journalist involved needs to rebuke their sources as the accuracy of the article is WAY OFF.

The story could have been – “scientists continue to recommend increases in SBT quota.” Since 2011, the quota has been set on the scientific recommendation (

Critics love to quote the science when it suits – but as soon as the science does not fit, they ignore it.

Previously the quota has been set largely by political deals.  For example, in 2009, NZ had its quota increased, and Australia’s quota was cut by 25%. Unsurprisingly, NZ then announced that it would agree to a commercial catch of whales. The Australian Trade Minister arrived in Tokyo two days after the tuna talks to finalise a Free Trade Agreement, but unsurprisingly achieved nothing.

Therefore the journalist relying on the Japanese and NZ Governments on this issue is falling for the 2009 propaganda machines of those two governments.


Errors in the article include

(1)    Japan is not complaining about the “count.” The count is carried out by Government experts and re-counted time again. Japan is complaining about the average weight sample, which is also carried out by Government experts – not industry.  Every time Japan is asked to provide the data used for this claim, they refuse to supply it.

(2)    Why would some of the world’s best fisheries scientists (including an independent Panel) recommend increases in catch quotas for an “endangered” fish? That would be a good story. It is not endangered according to anyone (see the EPBC Act) except the IUCN which provides not one bit of evidence on its site for that (, despite them listing it in 1996.

(3) Everyone agrees that what Japan is proposing kills fish, reduces their value, breaks State laws, and which Japan itself will not introduce it. It is also $600,000 EXTRA cost, on top of the $400,000 the existing system = $1 000 000 = lost jobs for no good reason.

(4)    It is not “100 fish killed during the tow”

a.       None of the fish are killed. They are all returned live to the water.

b.      It is not 100 fish – it is 100 fish ≥10kg – effectively an unlimited number of fish.

c.       The sample is not taken during the tow. It is taken after the tow is finished.


If this journalist can get so many facts wrong in an article, the misleading angle on the story becomes suddenly unsurprising!

Welcome to Our New Home on the Web

Welcome to the ASBTIA website. This website has been launched with the purpose of keeping industry, stakeholders and the general public up-to-date with the latest information, developments and research in the Southern Bluefin Tuna industry.

The industry’s long term commitment to ecologically sustainable fishery and aquaculture practices is something to be proud of.


Some major opportunities and challenges facing the industry include:

Long-term quota level and stability

Australia’s quota bottomed out at 4,015 tonnes pa in the 2 years ending 2010/11, then increased to 4,528 tonnes in 2011/12, and 4,698 tonnes in 2012/13.

These quota increases are based on the results of the CCSBT scientific model – the Management Procedure (MP) – see

The CCSBT will next meet (in Adelaide) 14-17 October, 2013 to confirm the quota for 2013/14, tentatively set at 5,147 tonnes. That CCSBT meeting will also set the quota for the 3 years starting 2014/15. It is possible the Australian quota could be set at 5,665 tonnes – the limit allowed for Australia.

The CCSBT will then, in late 2016, set the quota for the 3 years starting 2017/18.

This is the type of longer-term stability the industry needs to make the investments required to remain internationally competitive.

Diversifying markets

Australia is very dependent on an uncertain Japanese market, and on a relatively weak Yen. Real progress has been made in 2013 in developing other markets in Korea and China. However, the next step required is for Australia to finalise Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) with Korea, China and Japan. It is not only the tariffs in China (10%), Korea (22%) and Japan (3.5%), the other issues are:

– Countries competing with Australia have FTA’s with these key markets – for example, the US with Korea, Mexico and Chile with Japan, and NZ with China

– FTA’s facilitate access through difficult Customs procedures in some countries.

Ensuring long-term feed supplies

The Australian tuna ranching industry has access to a large part of its feed requirements from high quality local sardines. Some imported feed is also required, and global supplies are increasingly costly.

Positive relationships

Maintaining a positive relationship with the SBT fishery regulator (AFMA), the aquaculture regulator (PIRSA), and with the scientific community.. The relationship needs to robust but recognise one another’s responsibilities. The industry and the fishery have been through tough times – now the sun is rising for both, the message is to continue to be precautionary and to think long term.

Kind Regards,
Brian Jeffriess
ASBTIA Executive Officer

What can you expect to find on our new website? is a hub of user-friendly reliable information, available to the global community.

Learn About Careers in the Tuna Industry

Careers in the bluefin tuna industry