THE status of wild fish stocks that underpin Commonwealth fisheries has remained generally steady according to a new report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.
ABARES executive director Karen Schneider said the fishery status reports 2015 showed that of the 92 fish stocks reviewed across the 21 Commonwealth fisheries, 63 stocks (or 68 percent) were both not overfished and not subject to overfishing. This is an increase from 61 stocks in last year’s reports.
The Commonwealth fisheries include nine fisheries managed solely by the Australian government and 12 fisheries managed jointly with other Australian jurisdictions or other countries. Ms Schneider said that for the second consecutive year there were no stocks classified as subject to overfishing in any fisheries managed solely by the Australian government. This is an important measure of management performance, in terms of ensuring the levels of harvest are sustainable.
“The reports also reflect the rebuilding of the eastern zone orange roughy stock, which is now classified as not overfished,” Ms Schneider said.
“The orange roughy stock in this area was closed to targeted fishing because of historic depletion.
“However, the most recent stock assessment has shown the stock is above the limit, so not overfished.
“In line with this the Australian Fisheries Management Authority has set a total allowable catch for the 2015-16 fishing season.”
Unfortunately, redfish in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery is now classified as overfished based on the most recent stock assessment, and there is uncertainty around the level of fishing mortality that will allow the stock to rebuild. The AFMA is currently developing a rebuilding strategy for this stock.
Additionally, a number of stocks are managed solely by the Australian government where the status is classified as uncertain and it is unclear whether the size of the stock and level of fishing mortality are at appropriate levels. Increased certainty in the status of these stocks would provide greater confidence in the associated management arrangements.
“There are also two stocks that are internationally managed and fished by several nations – namely bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean and striped marlin in the Indian Ocean – and both are subject to overfishing and are overfished,” Ms Schneider said.
“The reports consider the economic performance of Commonwealth fisheries.
“These fisheries generated $338.2 million in gross value of production in 2013-14, which is 24 percent of Australia’s total wild capture fisheries GVP of $1.4 billion.
“The economic performance varies across the fisheries, influenced by fishing revenues and costs, changes in economic productivity and management arrangements.”
This report forms part of a suite of ABARES publications that provide a comprehensive and multidimensional account of the trends and outlook for Australian fisheries. For a copy of the report, visit www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/publications