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Unfair to Compare Australian Fisheries with Northern Hemisphere

19 June 2012

AUSTRALIA - The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) says it is misleading and unfair to compare Australia’s fisheries management with Europe and Africa where some fisheries have collapsed.

The recent debate about the possible entry of a factory trawler to fish for mackerel off the south east ofAustralia has sparked criticism of Australia’s fisheries management but some of this information has been false or confusing, says AFMA CEO Dr James Findlay.

“The fact is that Australia’s fisheries management has been consistently ranked among the world’s best in independent reports by international experts”, said Dr Findlay.

One of the world’s best known critics of fisheries management, Dr Daniel Pauly of theUniversityof British Columbia ranked Australian fisheries second out of 53 countries for environmental sustainability in his comparative assessment report. A report by the United Nation’s Food Agriculture Organization also highlightedAustralia’s effective fisheries management including actions to rebuild overfished stocks.

Dr Findlay said that strict catch limits established by AFMA are very firmly based on scientific research and are set in consultation with experts in fisheries science and economics, as well as representatives of conservation, industry and recreational fishing groups.

“Management arrangements are constantly evolving to take into account fish populations and any stock under pressure is monitored closely, with catch limits changed accordingly.”

Recent increases in sustainable catch limits in Commonwealth fisheries are evidence thatAustralia’s fisheries management is working and our fish stocks are healthy. Sustainable increases in catch provide more local seafood for Australian consumers.

The most recent Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Sciences figures show that Gross Value of Production in Commonwealth fisheries has increased in the last year providing a significant boost for the industry, based mainly in regional Australian communities.

“We also monitor effects on the environment and if problems are occurring we take strong action, such as in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, where we closed part of the fishery earlier this year to prevent sea lion captures.”

Australian fisheries have strong monitoring and enforcement programs to ensure regulations are followed.

“It’s not surprising that other countries view our fisheries with some envy”, said Dr Findlay.

“But Australians can be confident that any proposal to develop Commonwealth fisheries will be done so sustainably under AFMA’s strict management arrangements.”

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