Southern Bluefin Tuna

Latin name: Thunnus maccoyii

Common name: Tuna

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Wild Caught

Commonwealth waters

Key Facts

  • Southern bluefin tuna is mainly caught in purse seines; the majority are juveniles that are 'ranched' in sea cages to marketable size, although there is a significant longline catch as well.
  • Southern bluefin tuna is critically endangered species, with population numbers down to around 5% of original fish biomass.
  • The fishery is managed by an international collaborative body that includes representatives of the nations that fish the species. Management initiatives to protect the species have been difficult to implement, although progress is beginning to be made.
  • There is an un-quantified recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna in NSW and VIC.

More information

  • Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery (4,543t 2011-12)

Southern bluefin tuna is mainly caught in purse seines in Australian waters. The majority of southern bluefin tuna caught are juveniles, which are transported to large sea cages off South Australia and ‘ranched’ (grown on in fish farms) until they reach marketable size. There is also a significant amount caught in Australian longline fisheries.

Southern bluefin tuna is listed as ‘Critically endangered’ on the IUCN Redlist due to intense fishing pressure from a number of nations, including Australia, Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand. Recent stock assessments indicate that the numbers of fish remaining are still at around 5% of their original population.

Southern bluefin stocks are managed internationally by a body that includes representatives of the fishing nations that fish the species (the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna).  Although there is now a plan in place that may enable the stock to rebuild over a period of decades, reaching agreement and reducing quotas has been challenging, given that individual fish fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There is a significant recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna, particularly in NSW and VIC. The impact of recreational fishing on southern bluefin tuna stocks has not been quantified.