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 2018 reports examined 120 species, this is 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 these would make it difficult to compare and stocks spanning across multiple jurisdictions proved difficult to adequately 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 the United Nations looks at the latest edition of the Status of Australian Fish Stock Reports.

History of the reports

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

The 2018 edition sees the addition of 37 new species, which were nominated by the FRDC and Jurisdictions—states and the Northern Territory.

The 2018 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 number of minor updates were made to the national reporting framework from the last edition of the reports in 2016. This includes, refining the status classifications from transitional–recovering to recovering, transitional–depleting to depleting, overfished to depleted, removal of the Environmentally Limited classification; a minor change to the classification colour scheme; and further clarify around some of the stock category definitions.

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, that has been 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 fourth edition of SAFS work has been completed to map and show trends of species going from being depleted back to sustainable and vice versa.

A report and methodology was developed as part of the 2018 Reports to allow comparison between five objectives (below) in a way that overcomes challenges resulting from changes over the four editions in reporting framework, unit of assessment and naming conventions.

  • Coverage of Australian fish stocks – how many species and fish stocks were reported on in each year?
  • Understanding of stock structure – how many of the reported stocks were reported as biological stocks in each year?
  • Overview of stock status – how many of the reported stocks were classified in each status category in each year?
  • Reduction in Undefined stocks – how many reported stocks were classified as Undefined in each year?
  • Improvement in status of stocks – of stocks initially reported as Depleted or Recovering (B < BLIM), how has status improved over time?

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.

The Report (Performance measures for Status of Australian Fish Stocks reports) can be found on the SAFS Project Page 2017-100 - Status of Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) reports 2018, and further development of the SAFS production and dissemination system.