Australia is known to have sustainable tuna fisheries. In June 2020, Friend of the Sea Director and Founder Paolo Bray spoke with Claire Webber, Research and Liaison Officer at ASBTIA about how the Australian SBT industry align their values with the principles upheld by Friend of the Sea (FoS). Friend of the Sea is an independent global certifier of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture activities. Following an audit process, ASBTIA and its member companies became accredited by FoS in 2015.
Media Release – 16 December 2015
The Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) fishery and farms have achieved an important milestone by being awarded the international Sustainability Certificate of the “Friend of the Sea,” a non-profit NGO which is the world’s largest certifier of seafood.
The Friend of the Sea sustainability award is the only one which covers both the catching of the Bluefin from the wild and the value-added farming of the catch. It has high credibility and recognition in the key markets for Australian Bluefin.
The industry appreciates the support provided by the South Australian Government to achieve the landmark certification. The SA Government itself continuously audits the industry and those audit reports were important in the independent certification process.
A major strength of the Friend of the Sea certification is that it covers all parts of the Bluefin Chain of Custody. This includes the sustainability of the fishery, of the ecosystem (including any bycatch), of staff safety and labour conditions, carbon footprint of organisations, product testing and traceability, animal husbandry and welfare, vessel monitoring and waste management.
Friend of the Sea is an international certification program for products from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Over 500 companies in more than 50 countries have relied on Friend of the Sea to assess the sustainability of their seafood origins. Audits, based on best and most updated available scientific data, are run by accredited independent certification bodies. Email: email@example.com or visit their website: www.friendofthesea.org.
Official Document: ASBTIA Media Release on Bluefin Sustainability Award – 16 December 2015
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Calculating catch quotas for Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT), Thunnus maccoyii, has historically been a highly political and internationally sensitive issue. At the heart of the problem has been the need to balance the ongoing harvesting of SBT by nine international fishing fleets with efforts to conserve and rebuild stocks of this overfished species.
CSIRO scientists have been leading SBT research for decades. In the 1980s they calculated the extent of the species’ decline from the heavy fishing since 1955 to have resulted in a population that was about just five per cent of the size of the unfished population in 1931.
Since then they have continually developed new approaches to more accurately assess fish stocks and underpin management procedures designed to allow populations to rebuild.
Richard Hillary, from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, says in the past, catch quotas would be argued and worked through each year. But a new formula was adopted in 2011 to set quotas within a range that will help rebuild stocks to the international target of 20 per cent of unfished level. This formula is a simulation-tested decision rule that is based on inputs acceptable to countries participating in SBT conservation efforts through membership of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). The simulation is used to calculate a total allowable catch (TAC) for the fishery for threeyear periods. Richard Hillary says the new approach is more orderly and scientifically based and has helped to remove the wrangling and uncertainty from the process.
Improvements in data about SBT populations, combined with the new management procedure, have allowed quotas to be increased in recent years after drastic cuts were made in 1988, and smaller cuts in 2006 and 2009, to help stocks rebuild.
The Australian SBT industry is significantly smaller today than it was at its peak in 1982, and it has supported efforts to improve the science behind the management of the fishery for more than two decades. The Australian SBT industry has invested strategically with the FRDC in key pieces of research that have greatly improved knowledge of the species and stock status.
This includes CSIRO’s work to develop a new quota calculation formula as well as ‘Close-kin’ matching and tagging projects which directly estimate the abundance and movement of SBT populations respectively.
CEO of the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association Brian Jeffriess says the long-term partnership between the FRDC, researchers and industry has produced valuable research. “The industry knew that the new projects, and the move to setting the quota by scientific models, would not be welcomed by everyone. However, it was the only way to ensure the sustainability of SBT and the communities dependent on it,” he says.
Article Reference: FISH News, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Volume 20 Number 4, December 2013, pp 16-20.
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