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The 2020 Status of Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) Reports (5th edition) contain assessments for 148 species, comprising 477 stocks, making this edition arguably the most comprehensive status report ever completed on Australia’s fish stocks. 

Australia’s assessed fish stocks continue to be well managed, and a majority have been assessed as sustainable. 

The strength of the SAFS reports continues to be their foundation in science. They provide information on the sustainability of fish stocks for a wide audience that includes the public, policy makers, managers, fishers, consumers, retailers or an international audience. 

The 2020 reports incorporate an additional 25 new species, making these reports a significantly larger undertaking than previously. Several of the new species are noteworthy for their commercial or recreational value, as targets of relatively new fisheries, or for their distinctive biological traits. Amongst these are Australian Bonito, Redspot King Prawns, Western Rock Octopus, Striped Trumpeter, Longfin and Southern Shortfin Eel, Crystal Crab, Longspined Sea Urchin and Barred Javelin. 

The 2020 edition saw SAFS authors using a new, online form for report completion. This new approach has been well-received by authors, and also facilitates the collection of information required for Australia to meet its reporting requirements against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 14 (Life Below Water) and Indicator 14.4.1 (Proportion of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels). 

To the make the SAFS reports more accessible to consumers, the 2020 edition is also available through a new SAFS phone App. The App allows users to easily access key information about the species assessed and links back to the website, which contains the full reports. 

The reports could not have been produced without the significant assistance of the fisheries science community and the dedication of the FRDC team. Over one hundred of Australia’s fisheries scientists were involved in producing SAFS 2020, with each report anonymously peer-review by at least one independent expert. The FRDC thanks all SAFS authors and reviewers for their involvement in the ongoing development of the reports and their commitment to rigorous scientific methods. 

Australia’s fish stocks are in a healthy state with management regimes in place to maintain and improve the sustainability of all our fisheries. However, while the current picture is good, the SAFS reports are a snapshot in time. In contrast, fish stocks are dynamic and require constant monitoring, so we cannot rest on our laurels and past performance. Future editions of the SAFS reports will continue to provide a valuable tool to ensure the sustainability of Australia’s fish stocks into the future.