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More Bluefin Jobs And Brighter Future For Port Lincoln Australia, August 23, 12

The local tuna industry is approaching the future with cautious optimism after it was revealed this week growth of 85 per cent was expected in the sector by 2013/14.

A report released this week showed the industry could grow by 85 per cent by the 2013/14 season compared to the 2010/11 season.

The report also showed the tuna industry produced $125 million in the 2010/11 season, largely helped by the reinstatement of tuna quota that was lost in 2009.

Productivity gains such as better fish growth rates are also predicted to impact on the future of the industry.

The industry’s value was more than $40 million ahead of the second highest earner, the rock lobster industry, with the oyster and prawn fisheries also adding significant amounts to the area’s economy.

Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess said although the figures were great news for the tuna sector, the industry were being cautious in its optimism for the future.

“As we found out in 2009, government decision-makers can decide that there are bigger fish to catch than the tuna industry, such as buying goodwill on whales with other countries,” he said.

“That might have backfired then, but it has made the tuna industry very cautious until final quota decisions are made.”

The stability of the industry remained the highest priority, Mr. Jeffriess said.

“Since the quota cut in 2009, the industry has had to live with uncertainty,” he said.

“Now the quota has been increased, the industry has greater stability and some incentive to invest.”

Mr. Jeffriess said there had also been jobs added in the local tuna sector in the past year due to a positive outlook on the future.

“The job increase was because of new confidence in the industry resulting from the new stock assessment data indicating that there may be a quota increase in the future,” he said.

A decision on the long-term quota for the industry will be made in October next year by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).

Mr. Jeffriess said the industry would not be able to decide on its future until after this meeting.

“It is only then that the industry will have the total certainty it needs to invest in ranching in deeper water,” he said.