Longliners Await Arrival of Southern Bluefin Tuna

The arrival of Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) on the south coast of New South Wales is likely to be within the next four weeks. This means that longliners in the region should start seeing Bluefin in their catch soon, however this is dependent on the fish traveling with the cooler water when it pushes in north of Cape Howe.

Whilst it has been slim pickings in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF) for the start of the 2017/18 season, prices have been relatively good. Reports of good returns from domestic and export markets for Yellowfin and Big Eye are pleasing. However, volumes are very low compared to the last two seasons.

The arrival of Southern Bluefin Tuna should support access to high volume catches for the east coast longline fleet. Over the past few seasons vessels that are set up correctly have reported catches of 2.5 tonne in a single hook set. This should be a nice turnaround for operators that have secured SBT quota compared to catch rates in the ETBF currently.

Similar to last season the value of the AUD/JPY has started to show positive signs for exporters. In the last three months the JPY has come down from a high of 88 to a low of 81.5. If this trend continues and the SBT exhibit good quality, operators can expect a good return.


With the arrival of the SBT imminent, Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) will put in place the SBT Zone (no core and buffer zones this season) which means vessels will need minimum holdings of SBT quota to access this species within the designated zone.

Christian Pyke from Fisheries Asset Brokers said “that the market for leasing SBT quota is currently between $4 and $4.50/kg depending on volumes traded”.

Christian Pyke said “there is still SBT quota available in the system, however if the fish show up in force and the prices are good, by August the quota will become scarce”.

9 May 2017