BFCA says “inadequate” science used to justify longline quota increases

“INADEQUATE” science is being used by the federal agency controlling long-lining for tuna and billfish, according to the Boating and Fishing Council of Australia (BFCA).

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has proposed a new system of quotas for long-liners working the east coast and targeting yellowfin, bigeye, striped marlin, swordfish and albacore. As detailed by Fishing World last week, the new quotas – or Total Allowable Commercial Catches (TACC) – far exceed the Recommended Biological Catch Controls set by government scientists.

“From our perspective concerns lay … with the inadequacy of the science placed on the table,” a BFCA spokesman said today.

“There are inconsistencies with the Total Allowable Catch figures recommended by the Tropical Tuna Management Advisory Committee and those currently being used by AFMA to determine quotas.”

Federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig and his Parliamentary Secretary Mike Kelly last week responded to widespread protest by anglers about the proposed new quotas and have delayed a decision on the TACC implementation, which was meant to have taken place on January 24.

Anglers are calling on Senator Ludwig and Dr Kelly to refuse to allow AFMA to permit the commercial long-line fleet to take more tuna and billfish than is recommended by the scientists. Green groups such as Greenpeace have also weighed in on the debate, saying that the AFMA proposals are unsustainable.

Anglers are also concerned that continued long lining for striped marlin will result in significant by-catch of “protected” blue and black marlin.

“The use of long-lining for tuna continues to also pose concerns … and whilst modern technology and observers on vessels has helped significantly, the continued reduction of by-catch must be a priority,” the BFCA spokesman said.

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