The Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s managing director, Richard McLoughlin, claims Japan has been exceeding its quota of southern bluefin tuna for the last 20 years and not just by a few fish. In an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald entiled ‘Revealed: how Japan caught and hid $2b worth of rare tuna’ he claims they have been catching 3 times their quota.*
But last time I read-up on the issue, it was apparent Japan never agreed to operate within the quote that it had been allocated. This is what I wrote at this blog on 1st June last year:
“I was concerned to learn that the Southern bluefin tuna fishery is shared with Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea and New Zealand. The total global catch peaked in 1961 at 81,605 tonnes and was then in general decline for three decades. Since 1990 the total catch has ranged from between 13,231 tonnes (1994) to 19,588 tonnes (1999). Stock assessments suggest that the parental biomass is low but stable and unlikely to recover to target levels unless all countries agree to abide by national allocations as determined by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna. While Australia apparently operates within its allocation, Japan has not agreed to operate within its allocation, and Indonesia does not recognise the Commission.”
The Sydney Morning Herald article does not appear to have been properly research and it doesn’t look like the Japanese were given an opportunity to tell their side of the story? Furthermore, is it appropriate for Mr McLoughlin to describe the Japanese action as ‘fraud’ if they never agreed to a quota?
*According to the Sydney Morning Herald article: Mr McLoughlin was speaking at an ANU seminar in a speech recorded and posted on the internet and the official findings of an inquiry into the issue were presented at an international meeting in Canberra in July, but kept confidential. I’ve had a quick look for the speech on the internet but couldn’t find it. If you can, please post the url as a comment or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.