Media Release Fisheries

Overfished and undefined: Government fish stocks report shows Australian fisheries have more work to do

March 5, 2019

An Australian government assessment of commercial fish stocks shows that overfishing and a lack of data are undermining efforts to bring more sustainable seafood to the plates of consumers, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says.

The Commonwealth Government’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation has today released its Status of Australian Fish Stocks 2018 report covering 120 species – an increase of 37 species on the previous report released in 2016.

Since 2004, AMCS has researched and published Australia’s most trusted and  independent guide for seafood-loving consumers – Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide.

Adrian Meder, AMCS Sustainable Seafood Program Manager, said while the increase in the number of stocks covered in the report was welcome, the report also showed that some 21 percent of stocks are classified as either depleted, depleting, or undefined.

Meder said: “That means that one in five of all our fish stocks are not being managed in a way that you could describe as sustainable. In 2019, we should be doing better than this. Australians want to enjoy their seafood – knowing that it’s coming from a sustainable source.”

“Instead of trumpeting the narrow set of circumstances under which it can be argued overfishing is not occurring, we call on governments and industry to knuckle down and recover our depleted fish stocks, and gather the information we need for proper science-based management.”

Meder said it was critical for consumers to understand the report only considers in detail the numbers of fish in the sea.

He said: “That is only a very small part of sustainability, because sustainability is about how fishing affects the wider marine environment.”

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide provides the Australian public with analysis and assessment of fisheries representing over 92 percent of local and imported seafood consumed by Australians.

The Guide, which employs a traffic light rating system, considers the impacts of each fishery on stocks targeted by commercial fishing, the amount of bycatch of endangered marine wildlife, and on marine habitats.

Because Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide is fully independent of government and industry, Meder said it remains the most used and trusted source of information for the seafood-loving Australian public.

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide is available online and in app form on IOS and Android. Visit

Media Inquiries: AMCS communications manager Ingrid Neilson 0421 972 731