What are the Status of Australian Fish Stock Reports

What are the Status of Australian Fish Stock Reports?

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The Status of Australian Fish Stock Reports are a series of assessments of the biological sustainability of a broad range of wild-caught fish stocks against a nationally agreed framework. The reports examine whether the abundance of fish and the level of harvest from the stock are sustainable.

The 2020 reports (5th edition) examined 148 species, this is approximately 90% of the total of Australia species commercially fished. 

More details about Australian fisheries are available here.

When the first Status of Australian Fish Stock Reports were developed in 2012, they were the first to span across all jurisdictions to provide comparable results across Australia. Previously, each state, territory and the Commonwealth would carry out their own assessment. A lack of consistency across jurisdictions made comparisons difficult, and stocks that either straddled state borders, or were captured in both state- and Commonwealth-managed fisheries, proved challenging to manage. 

International relevance

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is working towards achieving 17 Sustainable Development Goals. When assessing Australia’s progress towards Goal number 14 (“Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”), the United Nations refers to the latest edition of the Status of Australian Fish Stock Reports.

History of the reports

The Status of Australian fish stocks reports 2020 builds on the previous four editions in 2018, 2016, 2014 and 2012 reports, with minor alterations occurring during this time to the national stock status classification framework and species chapters.

The 2020 edition sees the addition of 25 new species, which were nominated by the FRDC and Jurisdictions—states and the Northern Territory.

The 2020 reports focus solely on the status of fish stocks. The status classifications do not consider broader ecosystem impacts of fishing or social and economic considerations that some consumers may be interested in.

Since the 2014 SAFS report, the FRDC took over the management, development and production from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARES). This saw FRDC undertake an independent audit of SAFS, detailed engagement and consultation with the Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports Advisory Group; regular meetings with the SAFS Advisory Group to ensure continual improvement of processes; coordination with author teams and data providers; technical review of individual species chapters; continued coordination of the external peer review process; and the construction of a new data driven website.

A data driven website

This website is a step change in both the design and construction. A great deal of effort has gone into developing a platform that is driven by the raw data provided by each jurisdiction around Australia. 


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Tracking change

From the outset there has been an aspiration to report on stock status trends across editions, to illustrate progress against typical performance measures for a stock status reporting system such as SAFS.

As part of delivering the fifth edition of SAFS work has been completed to map and show trends of species going from being depleted back to sustainable and vice versa.

The Key results page includes a number of the notable species and their status changes. Additionally in the Data Tools section users can look at all changes.