Australia must reduce catch of threatened bluefin tuna

CANBERRA (AAP): The Humane Society International (HSI) today blasted the Federal Government for trying to blame other countries for over-fishing of southern bluefin tuna.

The criticism comes in the wake of a damning report by the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS), showing bluefin tuna is now a threatened species.

The BRS stocktake of commonwealth-managed fisheries released yesterday found 17 of 74 species assessed were under threat ? including the southern bluefin tuna.

It said the spawning level of the southern bluefin tuna remained at historically low levels, after a decline since the 1950s.

"Clearly embarrassed by a damning report on Australia's southern bluefin tuna (SBT) fishery, (Fisheries Minister) Senator Ian Macdonald has sought to blame other countries for overfishing the species," HSI's Australian spokeswoman Nicola Beynon said in a statement.

"Attempting to excuse the overfished classification for SBT, Senator Macdonald claimed Australia shares in the management of these stocks with dozens of other countries.

"Australia is one of the three original members of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna and takes the second largest share of the global catch at 5265 tonnes a year.

"BRS has classified SBT as overfished since they began reports in 1992, yet Australia's quota has remained unchanged at 5265 tonnes since 1989."

Ms Beynon said that for 15 years the Australian fishery had not reduced its pressure on SBT despite the seriously depleted state of the stock.

"The Australian Government cannot continue to blame an international body for its own and ongoing unsustainable fishing for this endangered species."

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