Latest science shows WA’s aquatic resources are in good condition

Western Australia has maintained its global leadership in sustainable fisheries management with 96 per cent of stocks assessed as not being at risk or vulnerable to fishing.

The confirmation is part of the latest State of the Fisheries report for 2022-23, which also shows Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, including Western Rock Lobster, West Coast Deep Sea Crab, West and South Coast Abalone, Shark Bay Prawn, Exmouth Gulf Prawn, Peel-Harvey Sea Mullet and Blue Swimmer Crab, Pearl Oyster, Octopus and Sea Cucumber continue to support WA’s strong economy and regional communities.

More than 90 per cent of Western Australia’s fishery value is from certified fisheries.

Greenlip Abalone in the Abalone Managed Fishery is the only resource classified as inadequate due to exploitation, and management actions are already in place to assist the recovery of that stock.

The report also acknowledges the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource is operating under a 20-year recovery plan, which is supported by a $10 million State Government package of new measures to help fast track the recovery.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Chief Fisheries Scientist, Dan Gaughan, said the lack of a consistent approach to build in the knowledge of Traditional Owners remained a gap in longer-term fisheries science in WA.

“DPIRD’s Aquatic Science and Assessment section now has a dedicated Aboriginal Engagement Science Team to ensure we are open to engaging with Aboriginal people across Western Australia,” Mr Gaughan said.

“I am pleased to announce that in this year’s State of the Fisheries edition we include a section on Aboriginal engagement in aquatic science for the first time.

“We are continually working with all our stakeholders and the broader community to be adaptive, responsive, and innovative to derive updated scientific advice.

“Climate change and climate variability continues to impact fish stocks. We are aiming to explore innovative techniques within the burgeoning field of molecular genetics to better understand how the regional distribution of key fish resources may be impacted, and the resilience of key species to climate change.

“Aligned with this is the need to better evaluate how environmental change impacts the carrying capacity of the various habitat-types across our diverse array of regions,” Dan added.

WAFIC Chief Executive Officer, Darryl Hockey, said the latest report confirms that commercial fishing is sustainable, within the managed fisheries framework.

“Having 96 per cent of WA’s fisheries rated as sustainable and not-at-risk is about as good as you can reasonably expect, as 100 per cent is an impossible measure due to the vagaries of Mother Nature with cyclones, heat waves and floods. WA’s model for managed fisheries works, and this is proof.”

“It also highlights the folly of claims from eco-lobby groups, including Pew Charitable Trust, which propose that massive sanctuary zones are the way to ensure sustainability. Co-existence is achievable and this report, along with the dozen other State of the Fisheries Reports before it, are proof of that fact,” Darryl said.

The latest annual Status Reports of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources includes the most recent assessments for each of the aquatic resources within WA’s six bioregions, using DPIRD’s Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management approach.

You can download the report here.