National framework for status reporting

National framework for status reporting

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National framework for status reporting

The national reporting framework used in the Status of Australian fish stocks reports 2016 was developed collaboratively by fisheries scientists from around Australia. This framework uses standardised terminology and reference points for stock status classifications. Following release of the first Status of Australian fish stocks reports 2012, a review was undertaken to document the lessons learned. Feedback from stakeholders confirmed that national reporting on the status of key Australian fish stocks should continue, and that effort should be made to incorporate reporting on fishery-level environmental, economic, governance and social aspects.

The national framework for these reports considers both the abundance (number or biomass [weight]) of fish in a stock and the level of fishing pressure (the amount of fish being removed through fishing) applied to a stock. The status classifications assess whether the current abundance of fish in a stock is sustainable—that is, whether there is a large enough proportion of the original adult stock remaining that the production of juveniles is not significantly reduced. They also assess whether the amount of fish currently being removed through fishing is adequately controlled to ensure that stock abundance is not reduced to a point at which production of juveniles is significantly reduced. The framework makes these assessments against the conceptual biomass reference point of 'recruitment overfished', which is the point at which the spawning stock biomass has been reduced by fishing so that average recruitment (that is, the production of juveniles) is significantly reduced. There are seven classification categories (refer to Introduction for full descriptions):

  • Sustainable stock — indicates that biomass (or biomass proxy) is at a level sufficient to ensure that, on average, future levels of recruitment are adequate (that is, the stock is not recruitment overfished) and that fishing pressure is adequately controlled to avoid the stock becoming recruitment overfished.
  • Transitionaldepleting stock — indicates that biomass is not yet recruitment overfished, but fishing pressure is too high and moving the stock in the direction of becoming recruitment overfished.
  • Transitional—recovering stock — indicates that biomass is recruitment overfished, but management measures are in place to promote stock recovery, and recovery is occurring.
  • Overfished stock — indicates that spawning stock biomass has been reduced through catch, so that average recruitment levels are significantly reduced (that is, the stock is recruitment overfished). Current management is not adequate to recover the stock; or adequate management measures have been put in place but have not yet resulted in measurable improvements.
  • Environmentally limited indicates that spawning stock biomass has been reduced to the point where average recruitment levels are significantly reduced, primarily as a result of substantial environmental changes or disease outbreaks (that is, the stock is not recruitment overfished). Fisheries management has responded appropriately to the environmental change in productivity.
  • Undefined stock indicates that insufficient information exists to determine stock status.
  • Negligible stock — indicates that catches by all fisheries are so low as to be considered negligible, and that inadequate information exists upon which to base a status classification.
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What has changed since the Status of key Australian fish stocks reports 2012

The Status of Australian fish stocks reports 2016 builds on the previous two editions in 2014 and 2012 reports, with minor alterations to the national stock status classification framework and species chapters.

The 2016 edition sees the addition of 15 new species, taking the total number of species to 83. The additional species were nominated by the FRDC and Jurisdictions—states and the Northern Territory because they were important species (to the jurisdiction), contributed significant volume of production (i.e. are likely to be seen in fish shops) an/or were historically overfished.

A significant change to the 2016 edition, while directly not the reports has been the change to how the Reports were produced and compiled. In early 2015 the FRDC took over the management, development and production from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARES). This saw FRDC undertake detailed engagement and consultation with the Status of Australian fish stocks reports Advisory Group, coordination and review of individual chapters—including their independent review; and the construction of a new data driven website.  

The 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, that has been provided by the Jurisdictions. This approach will allow viewers to dive deeply into the data and rich history for each fishery—looking at the catch ranges and importantly delivering jurisdictional reports. 

The site also trials a number of new beta test features which will give those who visit the site the ability to generate their own specialised reports.

In the 2016 reports, negligible catch stocks have been included, if appropriate, in the species chapters. These are stocks that have had historically low to negligible catch, are generally not targeted and do not form part of a cross jurisdictional biological stock. No stock status determination was undertaken for these stocks but an estimated level of catch is provided if available. Likewise where available, the catch graphs and fishing footprint maps include catch from these stocks and the stocks in Table 1.

In each species chapter the main features and statistics section for Australian fisheries is now presented as a comprehensive table, including information on fishing methods, management methods, active vessels, catch and markets; by jurisdiction and individual fisheries.

Between 2012 and 2016 there have been changes to the stock structure and/or stock status for some species. In both cases the changes have been made based on the most recent and reliable information available.