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August 23 2011 - HSI Opening Statement      

Humane Society International Opening Statement - Special Meeting of the Extended Commission

23-27 August 2011, Sydney, Australia

HSI would like to thank the Commission for the opportunity to participate as an observer to these important discussions. HSI recognizes the immediate priority that conservation of southern bluefin tuna (SBT) demands and urges members to make prudent decisions on these to reach agreement at this meeting. However this task must not impede progress to urgently address the serious issue of longline fishing impacts on other ecologically related species, such as seabirds, sharks and turtles. Although CCSBT is a comparatively small tuna-RFMO, these management issues are perhaps more serious and challenging than those confronting other tuna-RFMO' s, and they require decisions regarding mitigation to be made as a matter of urgency.

HSI encourages members to urgently reach a decision at this meeting regarding the adoption of a robust and precautionary management procedure (MP). The MP adopted must be consistent with the precautionary principle, and tuned to ensure that population levels of SBT are restored to 20% of pre-exploitation of spawning stock biomass (SSB0) within the shortest possible time period. Considering that SBT stocks are currently at the perilously low level of around 5%, it is difficult for HSI to see an option other than a zero TAC of SBT to ensure that all members can benefit from stock recovery within an acceptable time frame with high reliability. A pause in fishing would give the Commission the opportunity to resolve some of its longstanding management issues, including those dealing with ecologically related species, so that when fishing resumes, it can be on a footing that is sustainable for both target and by-catch species. If the Commission disagrees and elects to set catches above zero, then HSI asks that you agree to a MP and TAC decisions that are calibrated to be as conservative and as precautionary as possible.

Irrespective of decisions made within this meeting of the Extended Commission, little may actually be achieved unless change can be assured at-sea where the problems exist. This is perhaps the greatest management challenge of all, yet despite the lack of progress in this area to date, HSI remains optimistic that this challenge is not insurmountable. Clear options such as practical mitigation measures already exist, and yet compliance with the few measures the Commission has previously agreed to goes unreported. HSI would like to see the Commission move to decision making processes that truly reflect ecosystem based management whereby impacts on ecologically related species, by-catch performance and compliance with by-catch mitigation measures are central to TAC setting decisions, rather than an afterthought that is rarely dealt with.

HSI urges members to ensure that their obligations to both SBT and ecologically related species are central to discussions this week, and looks forward to participating in these discussions.

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