Anglers united against marlin/tuna slaughter

ANGLERS and angling groups have united against plans to allow commercial long liners to catch unsustainable numbers of marlin and tuna over the next 12 months.

As previously reported by Fisho, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) wants the federal government to approve new system of quotas for the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF).

This new system replaces the old management system, which used hook numbers to control how many fish the long liners caught.

Most fisheries experts agree that quota systems are an efficient way to manage commercial fishing. But that all depends on the level at which the quotas are set at …

The new ETBF quotas, which are known as Total Allowable Commercial Catches (TACCs), have been put forward by the Tropical Tuna Management Advisory Committee (TTMAC). The quotas proposed for yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, striped marlin, broadbill and albacore are all far in excess of the Recommended Biological Commercial Catches (RBCCs), which are worked out by government scientists in consultation with industry and AFMA and are based on the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy and Harvest Strategy Policy.

AFMA and the TTMAC have proposed the following quotas for the 12 months starting March 1:

Yellowfin – 2655 tonnes
Albacore – 3000 tonnes
Striped marlin – 400 tonnes
Broadbill – 1550 tonnes
Bigeye – 2000 tonnes

TOTAL: 9605 tonnes

The RBCCs (ie, what the scientists say is the MAXIMUM that should be caught in that 12 month period) are:

Yellowfin – 1512 tonnes
Albacore – 2012 tonnes
Striped marlin – 362 tonnes
Broadbill – 1331 tonnes
Bigeye – 734 tonnes

TOTAL: 5951 tonnes

To summarise, the longliners want to catch 1153 tonnes MORE yellowfin than the science says they should, 988 tonnes MORE albacore, 38 tonnes MORE striped marlin, 219 tonnes MORE broadbill and 1266 tonnes MORE bigeye.

All up the proposed TACC would allow a total of 3664 TONNES MORE GAMEFISH to be long lined off the east coast than the science says is available to be caught.

The refusal by AFMA and the TTMAC to heed the scientific recommendations set by the RBCCs has angered and concerned anglers around the country. Fishing World last week established a protest campaign aimed at federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig and his Parliamentary Secretary Mike Kelly, who are responsible for approving the TACCs. See details of campaign HERE.

This campaign, which was widely supported by fishos, resulted in a decision on the new quota being delayed by two weeks to February 11.

Angling groups are now urgently lobbying the federal government to reject the unsustainable TACCs and instead base the commercial long line fishery on the scientifically recommended RBCCs.

Fisho has obtained by Freedom of Information processes a submission sent to AFMA by NSW Fisheries expressing deep concern over the proposed TACCs, in particular in relation to striped marlin, an iconic game species which has significant economic value as a recreational catch & release species. The NSW Fisheries submission also raised concerns about the lack of knowledge regarding the stock levels of striped marlin and urges AFMA to consider precautionary principles when setting commercial catch levels for the species.

See NSW Fisheries submission HERE.

RecFish Australia and the Game Fishing Association of Australia (GFAA) also sent in a joint submission to AFMA, protesting about the excessive numbers of game fish set to be caught and killed by the long line fleet. This submission, signed by RecFish chairman Russell Conway and GFAA president Graeme Williams, together with the NSW Fisheries submission, were considered by the TTMAC when setting the proposed TACC.

See joint RecFish/GFAA submission HERE.

Since Fisho broke news about this planned gamefish slaughter, other recreational fishing and boating groups have become involved in the debate. The Boating and Fishing Council of Australia (BFCA) this week sent out a press release urging the federal government to set any new TACC within the levels recommended by fisheries scientists.

See news story on BFCA statement HERE.

Fishing groups are now seeking a meeting with Mike Kelly to put forward our case, and our concerns, about the proposed TACCs. Fisho will be a part of any meeting with Dr Kelly and we’ll report back to you as soon as well have any news.

In the meantime, it is vital that anglers keep up the pressure on the government by sending protest emails.

See HERE for a quick and easy way to make your voice heard on this important issue.

Stay tuned to for more news affecting our gamefish.

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