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Australia: reconstructing estimates of total fisheries removals 1950-2010


Kleisner, K and Brennan, C and Garland, A and Lingard, S and Tracey, S and Sahlqvist, P and Tsolos, A and Pauly, D and Zeller, D, Australia: reconstructing estimates of total fisheries removals 1950-2010, Working Paper #2015 - 02, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (2015) [Government or Industry Research]


Australia’s commercial fisheries are of significant value to the Australian economy, with the twenty Commonwealth fisheries alone worth around AUD$320 million in production value. The fisheries statistics reported by the Australian government to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) typically consist of commercial landings from the national Commonwealth fisheries and the state fisheries. While reporting from this sector is generally robust in terms of accuracy and taxonomic precision, these statistics do not include landings from the recreational or indigenous fisheries. Recreational fishing is a popular pastime for Australians with the most recent National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey (NRIFS) estimating a national participation rate of 19.5% in 2000. Within the coastal areas of Northern Australia, the indigenous communities comprise a significant proportion of the total population. Within these Northern states, a high participation rate in fishing activities was recorded by the NRIFS. Similarly, the indigenous communities of the Torres Strait Islands land a significant quantity of catch. Discards from state and Commonwealth commercial fisheries, which may in some cases be alive, are often in poor condition. Although Australia has relatively strong monitoring of discards and in some cases estimates discard rates, discards are not reported to the FAO. This is due to the fact that FAO data are presented as ‘production’ figures, i.e., landings. However, given the global trend towards ecosystem-based fisheries considerations, total catches (i.e., total removals) should be considered for reporting. This study reconstructs total marine fisheries removals from 1950 to 2010 for the Commonwealth and for each of the state fisheries as well as the territorial islands (Norfolk Island and Heard and MacDonald Islands) and the state islands (Lord Howe Island, Macquarie Island, and the Torres Strait Islands). We find that reported commercial landings match quite closely to the finer scale landings data provided to us by the Commonwealth and the state fisheries departments. However, when we consider total landings from all sectors plus discards, we find that the total removals are 15 million tonnes, which is nearly double the 8.1 million tonnes reported from the commercial sector to the FAO from 1950 to 2010. The most significant source of this difference comes from discards, which were estimated to be 4 million tonnes over this period, with an unestimated fraction that possibly survives after being caught. Total estimated indigenous and recreational catches amount to 2.3 million tonnes (16% of total catches) over this period. Overall, we highlight the need to estimate landings and discards from all fisheries sectors to better quantify total removals from the system to more accurately establish the multiple pressures on marine ecosystems, and thus manage fish sustainably.

Item Details

Item Type:Government or Industry Research
Keywords:Australia, fisheries, harvest
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Aquaculture and fisheries stock assessment
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Fisheries - wild caught not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Tracey, S (Associate Professor Sean Tracey)
ID Code:104829
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-11-20
Last Modified:2015-11-20

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