Seafood Industry Australia’s response to Graham J. Edgar, Trevor J. Ward and Rick D. Stuart‐Smith’s research article, “Rapid declines across Australian fishery stocks indicate global sustainability targets will not be achieved without an expanded network of ‘no‐fishing’ reserves.
“This paper is an ideological attack on fisheries management and fisheries science, based on the belief that Marine Parks solve everything. They don’t. Fisheries management is far more responsive and adaptable than this paper makes out,” Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) CEO Jane Lovell said
“The Australian seafood industry supports a system of comprehensive, adequate and representative marine parks. But let’s be clear, Marine Parks are for managing the conservation of marine biodiversity, they are not a fisheries management tool.
“The basic premise of the paper is not supported by any evidence or credible scientific literature on Australia’s fisheries or fish-stock levels publicly available.
“The paper is based on data related to 190 species, however only 11 of these are commercially caught. With more than 600 species commercially caught in Australia it is impossible to make inferences about the entire commercial fishing industry, from questionable data, which covers not even 2 per cent of the catch.
“The paper confines its surveys to the generally shallow waters over temperate reef areas which are close to shore, and does not look at the major commercial catch areas which are: tropical prawn fisheries, sub-Antarctic fisheries and pelagic fisheries. These are Commonwealth-managed fisheries which start at three nautical miles from the coast, in typically deep water.
“The paper accurately points out the size of some commercial catches have decreased. But, inferring the size of a fishery’s commercial catch is in indication of fish numbers is just plain wrong. There many reasons why catch sizes rise and fall over time, including seasonal fluctuations and market demand. It is far more likely the reduction in catches is due to active fisheries management. Catch-limits are often reduced, based on the best available science, to ensure our fisheries are sustainable well into the future.
“The paper uses 2005 as the baseline year for commercial catch figures. This is the year before Australia adopted its current, more responsive fisheries management approach. This makes the comparison invalid and grossly misleading.
“After 2005 there were major government buybacks, lowering catch sizes and the introduction of stock limits that are the most conservative in the world.
“As fishers our priority is the ocean. We advocate the health, sustainability and future of our ocean. Our aim is to keep providing fantastic Australian seafood to Australians.”