Media Release Fisheries

South Australia reaps the rewards of good fisheries management

May 22, 2018

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) today announced further updates to Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, an independent consumer guide to choosing seafood produced in a way that doesn’t harm our oceans.

These updates are good news for South Australian ocean lovers, with some iconic South Australian species now rated a Better Choice.  Sardines caught in South Australia have been upgraded from the amber (‘Think Twice’) to a green (‘Better Choice’) rating through concerted efforts by the public, conservationists, the fishing industry and government to reduce interactions with short-beak common dolphins.

Adrian Meder, Marine Campaigner at the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said, “The Guide is the foremost tool the Australian public use to get independent information on the sustainability of seafood available for sale in Australia. The recent updates reflect how conservationists, the fishing industry and government can work together to create positive change for our oceans. We’re pleased to see that the public’s demand for sustainable seafood has led to significant improvements in South Australia.”

“The hard work by all stakeholders in the SA sardine fishery has paid off, with a reduction in the amount of dolphin deaths and improved release procedures for any incidentally caught dolphins.

We congratulate the fishing industry for modifying their practices to reduce the cost of fishing on the state’s incredible marine wildlife.”

Marcus Turner, Executive Officer of the South Australian Sardine Industry Association said, “Our fishers know that the public expects us to fish responsibly and make sure that South Australia’s marine wildlife is safeguarded. We have taken proactive steps to ensure this outcome through the introduction of the Code of Practice, peer-reviewed science and strong co-management arrangements with government.”

“Industry has prioritised the responsible fishing practices during this time, and is focussed on continually building upon a culture of sustainability that will pave the way for the future success of South Australian fisheries.”

King George whiting, western king prawns and blue swimmer crabs caught in SA are also on the green Better Choice list.

Mr Meder said, “Effective management measures are crucial to ensure that populations of popular South Australian fish remain at healthy levels. Previously depleted populations of blue swimmer crabs, western king prawns and King George whiting in parts of South Australia have recovered due to timely and effective actions from fishery managers. The positive outcomes of these measures are reflected in the updated Guide.”

Unfortunately, fisheries that catch snapper in SA still have some concerning issues which have prevented this species making it onto the green list.

“While snapper is not considered overfished at present, there are worrying declines in some indicators that are used to assess the health of snapper populations, so it currently sits on our amber ‘Think Twice’ list. We expect to see strong management actions taken to reverse this downward trend,” said Mr Meder.

Mr Meder concludes “Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide remains the nation’s most trusted source of information for Australians to ensure the seafood they choose is sustainable. We know that the public want sustainable seafood on their plates, and effective collaboration between the conservation sector, the fishing industry and government can ensure our favorite seafood remains on the menu for future generations.”

To arrange interviews with Adrian Meder and Marcus Turner, contact AMCS Communications Manager Ingrid Neilson, 0421 972 731.


  1. Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide was first published by the Australian Marine Conservation Society in 2004, and is available online and as a free app. It is produced in response to public demand for independent, credible and scientifically based information on the sustainability of seafood available for sale in Australia. The Guide covers farmed and wild caught seafood from Australia as well as imported product.
  2. Australian sardines in SA have moved from amber (‘Think Twice’) to green (‘Better Choice’) in this update due to successful efforts to reduce the capture of short-beak common dolphins in fishing nets. Actions have reduced dolphin mortalities by 97% in a decade.
  3. Blue swimmer crabs in SA have moved from amber to green due to improvement in crab numbers.
  4. King George whiting and yelloweye mullet remain on the green list.
  5. Western king prawns caught in Spencer Gulf remain on the green list, and are joined by prawns caught in Gulf St. Vincent.
  6. Snapper has moved from red to amber, although there are outstanding issues in the numbers of snapper that require management actions.
  7. Southern garfish and Australian herring remain on the red (‘Say No’) list due to the depleted state of fish populations.
  8. For an understanding of the process used to assess fisheries to produce the Guide, see here.
  9. AMCS will be adding further updates to Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide throughout 2018.