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Quota For Southern Bluefin Tuna Increases

GENERAL - As stocks begin to recover, the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna announced at its meeting last week, an increase in global catch levels.

The six-nation Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna met in Bali this week to agree targets for rebuilding stocks of the highly endangered fish species by 2035. .

The fish's 'critically endangered' status was recently reaffirmed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and supported by scientific advice to the federal Environment Department.

Under the rebuilding strategy, the global catch limit will increase from the 2011 level of 9,449 tonnes to 10,449 tonnes in 2012 and 10,949 tonnes in 2013.

Subject to satisfactory stock assessment in 2013, the global catch limit for 2014 would be set at a maximum of 12,449 tonnes.

Southern Bluefin Tuna is highly prized for its meat, consumed as sushi in Japan. However, decades of over-fishing have led to a massive decline in stocks. The species is classified as Critically Endangered.

Joyce Wu, a Senior Programme Officer with TRAFFIC (a wildlife trade monitoring network) said that the agreement by the Commission was the most positive step forward in rebuilding Southern Bluefin Tuna spawning stocks to sustainable levels for at least two decades.”

The spawning stock of Southern Bluefin Tuna is at an historically low level of around five per cent as a direct result of fishing practices. The new measures will mean there is a 70 per cent chance of stocks reaching 20 per cent of their former levels by 2035.

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