HSI DEFENDED SOUTHERN BLUEFIN TUNA FROM OVERFISHING
In 2005 Humane Society International fought a tough court case against the federal Environment Minister to defend the endangered southern bluefin tuna from chronic overfishing.
Federal Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell declared Australia's Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) Fishery an ecologically sustainable Wildlife Trade Operation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. HSI is bringing a case before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to challenge the decision.
Southern bluefin tuna has long been considered endangered and overfished, yet the Australian Government had not reduced the quota given to the Australian southern bluefin tuna industry since 1989.
As the case went to court, the Minister's own Threatened Species Scientific Committee provided him with formal advice confirming the species meets the criteria for protection as an endangered species. Incredibly the Minister decided not to protect the species as endangered despite the recommendation.
The Government allows the Australian southern bluefin tuna industry to catch 5,265 tonnes a year, which is approximately 70% of all the individual southern bluefin tuna caught worldwide. HSI considers the catch to be in breach of domestic legal and policy obligations for ecologically sustainable fisheries.
The Government argued there is no point to Australia reducing its quota until other countries fishing the species also reduce their quotas through negotiations at the international Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). Ultimately, the court agreed with the Government and HSI lost the case. Yet the CCSBT has consistently failed to manage southern bluefin tuna responsibly with parental biomass reduced to 4-19% of pre-exploitation levels and the prognosis for stock recovery remains poor.
It is a classic tragedy of the commons and HSI believes it is no longer tenable for the Government to excuse Australia's own over-fishing by pointing to the long term management failures of the CCSBT.
HSI opening statement, special meeting of the CCSBT Commission August 23 2011 click here
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