THE Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has announced that new recreational fishing rules for southern bluefin tuna in NSW have been implemented.
DPI acting director recreational and indigenous fisheries Cameron Westaway said a Ministerial Order has been put in place to allow recreational fishing for southern bluefin tuna to continue, but with a new bag limit of one per person now in place.
“Southern bluefin tuna is listed as endangered in NSW and to allow ongoing recreational fishing for this species a Ministerial Order has been put in place, which takes into account its endangered species classification,” Mr Westaway said.
“Although the latest international scientific information shows some positive recent signs in the recovery of the stock, the species remains classified as overfished by the Commonwealth and as endangered in NSW.
“These proposed new regulatory arrangements will provide additional protection for southern bluefin tuna while at the same time ensuring the recreational fishery can continue, providing social and economic benefits into the future.”
Characteristics such as slow growth, late onset of maturity, the presence of a single spawning ground and highly migratory behaviour make the southern bluefin tuna vulnerable to exploitation and slow to recover from fishing.
Although only taken in small numbers by NSW recreational fishers, southern bluefin tuna are a highly valued species, particularly by the game fishing sector.
The species is targeted well offshore in the winter months from the Victorian border to central NSW.
The new rules follow the public consultation period earlier this year, where the independent Species Impact Statement and draft Ministerial Order were available for public comment.
“All issues raised in the submissions were carefully considered before the changes were made,” Mr Westaway said.
“These changes will help to ensure a secure, sustainable, viable and healthy marine environment for NSW.”
The previous limits for southern bluefin tuna were included in a combined tuna bag limit of 7 fish, with only 2 fish over 90 centimetres.
Leading up to winter next year, DPI will run a targeted advisory campaign to remind fishers about the new rules prior to the southern bluefin tuna season commencing.