On Wednesday 6th November at the IMAX at the Melbourne Museum, Al McGlashan launched his passion project about Southern Bluefin Tuna – the documentary Life on the Line. This had many supporters and contributors, and is a fantastic story about how sustainable management can turn around the decline of a species – the Southern Bluefin Tuna (“SBT”).
SBT was driven to the brink of extinction in the 1980s as demand for its highly-prized meat increased. The documentary tells the story of how government, industry, research and the fishing community worked together, here in Australia and internationally, to put this iconic species on a pathway to recovery.
“My father used to tell me about this amazing tuna but I’d never seen one until recently,” recreational fishing identity and photojournalist Al McGlashan said.
“It’s long been a dream of mine to tell the story of the SBT and how the stocks are recovering. It’s an absolute privilege to see them out there again, and to see recreational fishers appreciating and respecting these athletes of the sea.” he said.
Life on the Line will be launched by the Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Senator Jonathan Duniam, at the premiere hosted by Brownlow Medallist and Tuna Champion Ambassador, Patrick Dangerfield.
Chairman of ARFF, Brett Cleary said the SBT fishery is the focus of the Australian Government-funded Tuna Champions program, which encourages recreational anglers to be responsible players in the fishery.
Most interestingly to me, was after the caps on the SBT fishing were put into place, the numbers declined all the way up to 2005 (roughly). If the Japanese weren’t pulled into line for taking more than their quota from the spawning fishery, then the species was likely to be extinct. It declined to about 5% of its biomass, but in about ten years has recovered to 13%.
I have been the beneficiary of the increasing SBT numbers, particularly as one of my favourite fisheries is off Port Fairy. The fishing is great, and my mind boggles that the numbers are only at 13%! Imagine if they were back to 50% – the fishing would be incredible.
I hope the SBT continues to be managed intelligently, and that other factors don’t start impact a renewed decline. I want to be fishing SBT for decades to come.