Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)

On 20 May 1994 the then existing voluntary management arrangement between Australia, Japan and New Zealand was formalised when the Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna came into force. The Convention created the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). The CCSBT is headquartered in Canberra, Australia.

The objective of the Commission is to ensure the conservation and optimum utilisation of the Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) stock.

SBT, Thunnus maccoyii, is a valuable, highly migratory species of pelagic fish. SBT ranges widely across the high seas regions of the southern hemisphere but also traverses the exclusive economic zones and territorial seas of countries including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and South Africa.

SBT has a single spawning ground in the waters south of Indonesia (northwest of Australia) between approximately 7 degrees and 20 degrees South. It is a long-lived species, living up to 40 years or more. It has a lengthy pre-maturity period and virtually life-long exposure to fishing pressure; the stock is slow to recover from depletion relative to other shorter-lived species, including most other species of tuna.

Australian fishers have targeted SBT commercially since the 1950s. The species was initially intended for tuna canneries, but the development of the fresh tuna market in Japan over the past decade, has seen a major shift in the fishing and marketing of SBT.

Most of Australia’s SBT quota is now caught and placed in pens off Port Lincoln, where it is fattened before being sent to Japan. The SBT industry earns an estimated $180 million annually.

In the decades up to the end of the 1980s, high levels of fishing for SBT caused serious depletion of the adult SBT stock. Scientific studies suggest that the spawning biomass levels may now be between 3% and 8% of its unfished level.

In 2011 CCSBT adopted a formal rebuilding strategy to allow SBT to recover to sustainable levels. The rebuilding strategy (known as a management procedure) provides CCSBT with guidance on setting global catch limits and provides the fishing industry with stability in the level of catch available over a set period of time. CCSBT has committed to recovering the SBT stock to an interim target of 20% of its unfished levels by 2035. To achieve this, the global total allowable catch will be set every three years.

The annual national allocations adopted in 2011 for the fishing seasons 2012, 2013 and 2014 (pending a 2013 assessment) are:

 

2012

2013

2014

TAC

10, 449 t

10, 949 t

12, 449 t

Member

 

 

 

Japan

2, 519t

2, 689t

3, 366t

Australia

4, 528t

4, 698t

5, 147t

New Zealand

800t

830t

909t

Republic of Korea

911t

945t

1036t

Fishing Entity of Taiwan

911t

945t

1036t

Indonesia

685t

707t

750t

Cooperating Non-Member

 

 

 

Philippines

45t

45t

45t

South Africa

40t

80t

150t

European Union

10t

10t

10t

CCSBT holds annual meetings of the Extended Commissions, Scientific Committee and Compliance Committee, which are hosted by each member in turn, as well as several working group meetings each year.

For more information on the CCSBT see CCSBT website.