The independent Fishery status reports 2008 assesses 98 fish stocks which are managed or jointly managed by the Commonwealth over the 2008 calendar year or fishing season.
The government made an election commitment to fund additional research to assess fish stocks and answer some long-running questions about the sustainability of current fishing levels.
The report draws on information from a range of sources, including fishing boat logbook data and independent data collected by scientists.
It reverses recent trends, which saw a rise in the number of ‘uncertain’ fish stocks.
Key findings from the report include:
- 11 stocks have been removed from the ‘uncertain’ lists
- 11 additional stocks are now classified as ‘not overfished’, including broadbill swordfish, silver trevally and ocean perch
- four additional stocks are now defined as either overfished or subject to overfishing (including two new stocks of orange roughy) Commonwealth fisheries generated $288.5 million in 2007-08, accounting for 13 per cent of Australian fisheries production.
Mr Burke said the report showed the Commonwealth continued to make progress on assessing fish stocks and promoting sustainable fishing practices.
However, he said it also showed more work needed to be done in managing key species, including blue warehou and gulper sharks.
“Sustainable fisheries are critical, not just for a healthy environment but for a prosperous fishing industry,” Mr Burke said.
“We will continue working with state governments, regional partners and scientists to gather the best information possible on where we should focus our efforts.
“Decisive action can make a significant difference to overfished stocks, with the Bass Strait scallop fishery reopening this year after some years of closure.”
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority has already taken steps in response to the report, including implementing a number of gulper shark fishing closures and targeted survey work.
For the first time, the report combines information from the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS) and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE).