Australian fisheries assessed to be free from overfishing

Published on
October 1, 2018

For the fifth consecutive year, all of the fisheries solely managed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) have been independently assessed as not being subject to overfishing.

The new “Fishery status reports 2018,” compiled by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), assessed 95 species that are either solely or jointly managed by AFMA. It found that while 12 stocks have changed status as a result of old or improved assessments, as well as uncertainty or changes in in catches, no stock solely managed by the Australian government was classified as overfished.

However, four AFMA managed stocks did have their status downgraded: the red-legged banana prawn in the Northern Prawn Fishery; white teatfish in the Coral Sea Fishery; flame snapper in the basket stock of the Line and Trap Sector; and the “other oreodories” in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF).

Chair of the AFMA Commission, Helen Kroger, said the annual assessment showed a continued improvement in the management of the fisheries.

“The management of Commonwealth fisheries is underpinned by world-leading scientific research and a strong legislative and policy framework,” she said. “AFMA draws on decades of independent research to make decisions around total allowable catches, harvest strategies and best practices around bycatch, to maintain healthy stock levels as assessed in the annual ABARES Fishery status reports.”

AFMA CEO James Findlay said the result was a credit to the Australian seafood industry, scientists, and fisheries managers, but that these stakeholders were also aware that there is more work to given the uncertain status of a number of species.

“AFMA will be further investing in science along with its key partner agencies, the FRDC and CSIRO, to resolve the uncertain status of these fish stocks," he said. "We also understand the challenge of managing fisheries in a dynamic marine environment, including climate effects, and AFMA is investigating how its management system can adapt to meet these challenges."

Of the eight jointly managed fisheries stocks that changed status, both the bigeye tuna and swordfish in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF) improved their status to not overfished and not subject to overfishing, as did the southern bluefin tuna stock.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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