Australia Postpones Stereo Video Usage

In mid. Oct., the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) decided to increase the total Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) quota for 2014 to 12,449 tons, up by 13% year on year, at its annual meeting in Adelaide, Australia.  The 2014 TAC is based on an advice from the Scientific Committee.  This certainly shows a fruitful result of strict catch managements implemented so far.  If the stock recovery is confirmed, there could be possibility to further ease of fishing management, and that would be a good news for a fishing industry.

In order to assess the stock condition of SBT, it is essential to improve accuracy of catch data submitted by tuna farming industr in Australia.  The country takes 42% or 5,151 tons out of the total quota, and majority of the catch is for farming.

SBT caught for farming is kept alive in a net and put into farming cages.  The number of fish caught and the total weight are not counted accurately but are estimated based upon the sample catch regime.

This method makes stock assessment uncertain.  This sample-based estimation also causes a doubt if the fishery management is practiced rigorously.  In case of Japan, the Fisheries Agency (JFA) has established a strict management system.  Length and weight of each SBT caught is individually measured and weighed on board, and fishermen are obligated to record such data into their catch reports.  Further more, landing ports are designated, and at such ports, agents of the JFA verify the SBT and the catch reports.

Scientists are claiming that stereo video cameras make it possible to precisely count the numbers and weights of SBT put into the cages.  It also improves quota management for farming fishery which currently remains opaque.

CCSBT has been discussing on introduction of this video for a long time, and Australia finally committed at the 2012 annual meeting to implement it from this year.
However, Australia announced to postpone it at the annual meeting this year.  Along with the change of the government, “Australia explained that the newly elected  government was concerned that unautomated stereo video monitoring would impose an excessive regulatory and financial burden on the industry. The government had therefore decided to postpone the implementation of stereo video monitoring until an automated solution coulld be developed,” a disclosed report noted.  Japan and New Zealand expressed dissent against it but failed to reverse the Australia’s stand.

It might not be meaningful to discuss if this excuse by Australia is right or wrong.  Rather, it draws a doubt on the stand taken by Australia, disregarding the promise committed by a result of long lasted discussion. 

In 2009, paying out of the national treasury, Japan scrapped 87 long-liners in order to abide with her commitment to reduce quotas of SBT, Bigeye in Central and Western Pacific Ocean, and Bluefin in East Atlantic Ocean.  It certainly was heavy economic burdens on the nation, but more burdens were imposed upon fishermen and fishery industries that had no other choice but to terminate their fishing activities.

However, Japan implemented what it committed with each international tuna fisheries management organization.  Being as a responsible nation, Japanese industries also committed themselves, along with the government, to take stifling heavy economic and social burdens.

An international society was disappointed with the stand taken by Australia against this stereo video monitoring issue.  Australia as a responsible fisheries management nation, should implement her commitment to regain the international trusts without any delay.

(This is a translation from Minato Fisheries Daily of Japan)