Anticipation is building among commercial fishers in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF) as the 2017/18 season commences. Catches so far for key ETBF species have been well down on the previous two seasons. This is to be expected due to cyclic environmental factors that are characteristic of the fishery. However, if Yellowfin and Bigeye Tuna catches don’t improve by the end of March, it is safe to say that numerous operators will be feeling the pinch.
Fisheries Asset Brokers has spoken with several operators who have said that if the Yellowfin and Bigeye don’t show in numbers that Swordfish and East Coast Southern Bluefin Tuna will become important target species in their fishing plans.
This means that demand for Swordfish quota is currently quite high. For operators that have made the early move to secure Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) quota, it may prove a wise decision. Early indicators are that a good season is on the way if the Tuna season in the Great Australian Bight is anything to go by.
Christian Pyke from Fisheries Asset Brokers said “That if the JPY strengthens and the water forms up well in June/July south of Sydney, it will probably support a good SBT season on the east coast”.
“By July 2016 the JPY was trading below 80 JPY/AUD which was good for exports. A similar exchange rate would be a welcome input into the 2017 fishing year” he said.
Sustainable Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery
The Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery has furthermore had positive media this week. AFMA reported that fish coming from the ETBF are from a sustainable source.
In addition, AFMA said that good management and a strong commitment from industry has ensured the future of the fishery.