21 November 2021 marks World Fisheries Day, which has been celebrated each year since 1997. The purpose of this day is to highlight the importance of maintaining sustainable fisheries. By doing so, we are ensuring healthy marine ecosystems into the future.
This year we are highlighting some of the fisheries issues that we face in Australia, and why AMCS works to improve these fisheries.
Fisheries in Australia
Australia’s oceans support the richest, most diverse life on earth, from the tropical Great Barrier Reef down to our Antarctic islands. We have 328 species of sharks and ray, half of which are found nowhere else on earth, while the Great Barrier Reef alone is home to more than 1,600 fish species.
Our big blue backyard is vital to iconic protected species, from the humpback highways of our east and west coasts to the threatened and endangered turtles, dolphins and dugongs that call our tropical waters home.
Our oceans also support a diverse fishing industry that provides seafood to the Australian and international market, and is an important part of the social fabric of many regional towns.
Unfortunately, commercial fishing is putting our iconic marine life at risk throughout Australia. Gillnets set in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park entangle dugongs, dolphins and turtles which can quickly drown, trawlers are catching endangered sharks and sawfish, while seabirds and turtles are caught in longlines set to catch tuna.
Overfishing of once abundant species such as orange roughy, scalloped hammerhead and school sharks has led to them being listed as threatened because they have been fished too hard for too long, while other fisheries for popular species, such as snapper and scallops, have had to be closed to allow fish stocks to recover.
Fishing in Australia can be sustainable though. Sustainable fisheries are critical to the future of our oceans, our communities and our precious marine life.
A fishery is sustainable when it:
- Selects target fish carefully and leaves plenty of fish behind to replenish stocks
- Has little or no bycatch, particularly of threatened species such as dugongs, dolphins turtles, sharks and rays
- Has negligible impact on sensitive marine habitats
- Has precautionary rules and regulations, based on the best available science
Every day more and more Australians are demanding sustainable seafood. It is vital that we continue to work to improve our fisheries to help our oceans to thrive and ensure that future generations of Australians who choose to eat seafood have access to local sustainable options.
How has AMCS made Australia’s fisheries better and more sustainable?
Our work on fisheries policy, partnerships with scientists, fishers and other stakeholders, and our Goodfish sustainable seafood guide and restaurants is helping to turn the tide on unsustainable fishing practices.
In 2021 we have:
- Seen fisheries reforms implemented in Queensland that set sustainable catch limits for target species and the implementation of a Protected Species Strategy for the gillnet fishery
- Secured commitments to have fins attached to all landed sharks in Western Australia, the only state in Australia without this rule, helping ensure all sharks are caught for more than just their fins. Western Australia, the only state in Australia without this rule, helping ensure all sharks are caught for more than just their fins.
- Stopped 100t, or 20,000 sharks from being fished from the Great Barrier Reef
- $100m pledged by the Commonwealth Government for our oceans
- Helped block Government bills that would weaken our national environment laws
- 106 restaurants are signed up to the GoodFish program and have committed to not sourcing red listed seafood.
- Blocked the greenwashing of the orange roughy fishery as ‘sustainable’ by the MSC
- Secured implementation of cameras on boats to scrutinise some of our most high-impact fisheries
How you can celebrate World Fisheries Day:
Download the GoodFish: Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide app & choose a sustainably sourced fish!
Sign a fishery reform petition!