Is Australia Really Running Out Of Fish?

TO WHAT EXTENT are the fish we depend on for our favourite pastime, and in some cases, our livelihood, being fished out of existence?

If you listen to Bob Brown, The Greens and a research document from 2003, 90 per cent of our great fishes – including marlin, tuna and snapper – are already lost. But which marlin species? Which tuna species?

Which snappers?

According to Modern Fishing’s marine biologist and columnist Dr Julian Pepperell, there is a lot of misinformation circulating surrounding fish stock depletion.

The choice of words used by green groups and those pushing anti-fishing agendas are often critical, according to Dr Pepperell.

“The term ‘fully fished’ is often used by conservationists to describe species, and it carries negative connotations. In fact, a ‘fully fished’ species is one that is being effectively managed – it’s being harvested to the extent it is being extensively fished, but to the point where the fishing is not having an adverse impact on its abilities to regenerate stocks,” he told Modern Fishing.

If evidence is anything to go by, Australia’s state-based fisheries management has a lot to be proud of. Queensland’s Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries recently conducted a large-scale review of the state’s fin fisheries, and implemented a host of tighter size and bag limits this year to deal with results that indicated excessive pressure on certain species. Sharks and rays, for example, now have a maximum legal size limit of 2m, and a bag limit of one shark or ray per day, per angler.

Sources close to Modern Fishing reveal very few Australian fish species are under direct threat at present – and it is misleading for green groups, which undoubtedly have the best intentions at heart, to suggest drastic measures such as large-scale marine lock-outs.

Overfishing does exist– many species are under threat internationally – and there are fisheries issues that need to be dealt with in this country.

But politicians making public statements about issues when they’re not well informed? Leave it to the experts, we say.

By Jack Scrine

This article is courtesy of Modern Fishing, Australia’s favourite fishing magazine. Get all the latest tips, tricks, gear and destination ideas every month by subscribing at

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