Protecting recreational fishing for southern bluefin tuna in Victoria

The decision by the Commonwealth Government in May this year to set aside a catch allocation of just 5% of Australia’s Southern Bluefin SBT (SBT) fishery for recreational fishers is one of the biggest resource sharing decisions of the last 30 years.

It equates to about 300 tonnes for recreational fishers across 5 States, compared to more than 6000 tonnes for commercial fishers. The VFA does not believe this is a fair or reasonable amount for recreational fishing and under international obligations the Commonwealth must manage recreational fishing to this 5% allocation.

Recreational fishing in south west Victoria alone is worth more $300 million to the economy and SBT is one of the biggest draw cards to the region.

The VFA regulates the recreational take under a system of bag limits with open access here in Victoria and our regular monitoring shows compliance with regulations is very high.

Recreational SBT fishing is no longer just confined to the south west of Victoria.  The fishery has expanded greatly over the last two decades.

Unfortunately, the 2019 national survey recently published by the Federal Government didn’t properly take this into account this fact, as it didn’t survey any fishers east of Apollo Bay.

The VFA would have preferred that the survey covered our fishery and coastline in full, as we know that SBT are caught all across the State.

In fact, SBT are now caught regularly on the doorstep on Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, which is home to 5 million Victorians.

There is no evidence to show the catch has declined from 240 tonnes in 2011 to just 82 tonnes now as suggested by the national survey, when the fish are caught all year round and across much larger area.

The VFA is taking up our concerns on this matter with the Commonwealth, through the Australian Fisheries Management Forum.  Further updates will be provided soon.