Health Card on Our Fish Stocks Released

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) have just released the 2018 Edition of the Status of Australian Fish Stocks Report. This report combines the best available information from across Australia to analyse the status of Australia’s wild fish stocks. The assessment has found that Australian fish stocks are well managed and majority are healthy with almost 85% of assessed stocks found to be sustainable or recovering.

It’s great news for our Southern bluefin tuna as after more than twenty years, SBT stocks have transitioned from depleted to recovering.

Our Port Phillip Bay Southern sand flathead stocks have also transitioned from depleted to recovering. VRFish held a recreational fisher forum in May last year to examine the stock status of sand flathead stocks and was buoyed to learn of positive recruitment in the fishery which has led to this improved status in the report.

Unfortunately, our black bream stocks in the Gippsland Lakes are classified as depleting which was VRFish’s conclusion last year after examining all the available fishery data. The black bream report concludes “the continuing decline in mesh net catch rates, continuing low recreational catch rates and lack of evidence of recent strong recruitment events means a short-term recovery of the fishery remains unlikely.” This further demonstrates the need to recover our beloved bream stocks in the Gippsland Lakes through a commercial netting buy-back, implementation of a recovery plan involving restocking and a review of recreational fishing bag and size limits. 

The 2018 report evaluated 120 species, accounting for a majority of the Australian caught fish that Australians consume, and almost 80% of those species were able to be assessed.  There were 355 stocks that were able to be assessed of the 406 stocks across the 120 species as shown in the table below.

There were 54 stocks classified as undefined and an additional 28 classified as negligible. There was limited or conflicting information regarding those stocks that were identified as undefined. It does not necessarily mean those stocks are at risk. Stocks classified as negligible are unlikely to be at risk due to their very small size.

There were 37 new species added in 2018 including the iconic – Australian Herring, Black Bream, Silver and Blue Warehou, Eastern Sea Garfish, Elephantfish, Estuary Cobbler, John and Mirror Dory, Mahi Mahis, Periwinkle, Redfish, Yellowfin Whiting and the first Sea Cucumber (White Teatfish).

The Reports are available at Status of Australian Fish Stock Reports and phone apps for both Android and Apple – just search for SAFS – Sustainable Fish Stocks.

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