The Administrative Appeals Tribunal is handing down its judgement in Humane Society International's southern bluefin tuna case today.
HSI asked the Tribunal to overturn federal Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell's, November 2004 decision to allow exports of southern bluefin tuna to continue because we say the fishery is not ecologically sustainable.
Southern bluefin tuna (SBT) is considered critically endangered. The latest scientific information shows there is a 50/50 chance the species will be extinct by 2030 if current fishing levels continue.
The endangered fish is caught in the wild and fattened up in pens in Port Lincoln. Almost all of it is exported to Japan for the lucrative sashimi markets.
The current breeding stock of southern bluefin tuna is approximately 3-14% of its unfished size in 1960. The Government's Bureau of Rural Sciences has classified Australia's SBT fishery as over-fished every year since they first started doing classifications in 1992.
Last year, the Minister's Threatened Species Scientific Committee advised the Minister that southern bluefin tuna meets the criteria for listing as endangered.
The international body that sets global quotas for the fish, the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), has been unable to reach agreement on quota reductions for sixteen years.
The Australian Government has allowed the Australian Fishery to catch all of the 5,265 tonnes allocated to Australia despite requirements under Australia's own environmental laws, for fishing to be ecologically sustainable. This means Australia's quota has remained unchanged since 1989 and represents approximately 70% of all the SBT caught worldwide.
HSI brought the court case in an effort to see Australia's environment legislation upheld.
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