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Extra ACE for Tuna Fishery

Southern bluefin tuna fishers are getting an in-season increase in Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE).

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash allocated an extra 76 tonnes in ACE and increased the recreational allowance by 12 tonnes.

The decision reflects a desire to provide for sustainable utilisation of the species, whilst recognising greater commercial gains and a growing recreational fishery, Nash said.

International organisation, Commission for Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) - of which New Zealand is a member – is responsible for managing the species.

A recent CCSBT stock assessment showed an increase in biomass that allowed extra allocation of quota for different member states.

Fisheries Inshore NZ (FINZ) programme manager Ollie Wilson said the increase in the Total Allowable Catch is supported by CCSBT science and provides for utilisation of southern bluefin tuna (STN).

However, there remain real challenges in monitoring the growing STN recreational catch, he said.

“The minister’s decision does not identify how these will be addressed".

“FINZ has serious concerns that increasing recreational allowances rewards uncontrolled or poor practices".

“The 2016/17 recreational fishery in Waihau Bay demonstrated that unconstrained recreational effort resulted in a ‘wild west’ fishery with reported incidences of fish dumping by recreational fishers".

Wilson said Ministry for Primary Industries representatives, whilst at the recent longline workshop with fishers, committed to a stakeholder meeting to discuss future management of the recreational STN catch - which was a positive step forward.