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Larger Numbers Of Smaller Bluefin Migrating Australia, June 14, 13

The future of the tuna fishing run off the south-west coast of Australia seems assured with anecdotal evidence of large numbers of smaller bluefin tuna migrating.

Portland fishing guru Bob McPherson said there was a 118-kilogram tuna caught on Sunday in 30 meters of water about 16 kilometers east of the Portland harbor.

“Pud Trewin, Ray Straton and Craig Trewin hooked up two tuna about 2pm Sunday. They got the 118-kilogram fish in but probably fortunately lost the second one, they said was a bit bigger, at the boat,” Mr. McPherson said.

“There seems to be a lot of fish this season in closer. Lots of smaller fish, about 18 months old, and a few bigger fish with them who seem to be showing them the migration route.”

Mr. McPherson said there had been about 15 breeding fish between 50 and 140kg caught this season.

“Two-thirds of the fish have been caught in close this year. In the past couple of years fishermen have had to go 34 miles out to get off the continental shelf to find the big tuna but this year the fish have generally been in closer.

“There’s no set trend, it’s not predictable. The numbers of small fish — up to 18 months old — certainly appears to be growing.”

He played down concerns that tuna stocks were being depleted by anglers in the south-west.

“The amount of damage to the fish population by amateurs is nothing compared to the professional commercial fishermen further north,” he said.

He said some amateur fishermen took the tuna stocks for granted but predicted that could change with a tightening of bag limits in coming years.

“I think it will tighten up. The numbers of smaller fish indicate there is breeding going on, which is very positive. There were fish caught this weekend near Lady Julia Percy Island in 30 to 40 meters of water. The season starts towards the end of February and goes through until the end of July but it gets thinner at the start and towards the end. There were about 100 boats putting in on Saturday despite the rough weather.”