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The 2018 Status of Fish Stocks (SAFS) Reports contain assessments for 120 species, made up of 406 stocks, which makes this edition arguable the most comprehensive status report every 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 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 2018 reports incorporate an additional thirty-seven new species, making these reports a significantly larger undertaking than previously. The new species included several iconic and noteworthy species. Amongst these are Australian Herring, Black Bream, Eastern Sea Garfish, Elephantfish, Estuary Cobbler, John and Mirror Dory, Mahi Mahi, Periwinkle, Redfish and Yellowfin Whiting. The first Sea Cucumber (White Teatfish) to be assessed, has also been included in the 2018 SAFS Reports.

From the first edition in 2012, we have aspired to be able to report on stock status trends over time, across editions. Mapping trends across the reports is a complicated process, so as part of the fourth report, a methodology was developed to enable comparisons to be made across reports. This allows for the development of broader trends across the different reports, and reveals the trajectory of particular species over time.

One key species where there has been improvement is Southern Bluefin Tuna. Since the first edition of SAFS Reports in 2012, its status has changed from depleted to recovering. Recent assessments have shown clear progress towards the rebuilding target set by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), which is set to guide the recovery of the biological stock to 20 per cent of unfished biomass by 2035. We are not there yet, but the trend revealed by the SAFS reports clearly points to the likelihood of achieving that target before 2035.

The FRDC will continue to develop and evolve the SAFS Reports to provide a more comprehensive and holistic measure of the sustainability of Australian-caught seafood. In the future, the reports will incorporate new elements beyond the status of fish stocks to include measures related to bycatch, non-target species, management and aquatic habitat. These areas closely align to those defined under the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative as key components for the sustainability of seafood.

In order to the make the SAFS reports more accessible to consumers, the 2018 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 worked on the SAFS Reports. A further thirty-five fisheries scientists anonymously peer reviewed the Reports. The FRDC thanks them all 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.