Sustaining our Fisheries

This campaign asks supporters to help better fisheries management in Australia by getting a copy of Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide or download the free iPhone app.
Fish lighter and reduce our impacts on threatened species and habitats


Overfishing, destructive fishing gear and poor aquaculture practices impact significantly on our seas, marine wildlife and habitats. An incredible 80% of the world’s fish stocks are now over-exploited or fished right up to their limit. Once considered inexhaustible, our oceans are now in a state of global crisis, and they need our help. In Australia, the world’s third largest marine territory, although our fisheries are managed better than most, we still have a long way to go until they can be called truly sustainable. Just like our land, our seas are nutrient poor and unproductive compared with most countries on Earth. This is why we need to fish lighter and reduce our impacts on threatened species and habitats. Get your copy of Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide or download the free iPhone app today. The good news is that consumers can lessen our impact on our oceans by choosing our seafood wisely. Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide has been developed in response to growing public concerns about overfishing and degradation of our seas, and helps ocean lovers make a responsible seafood choice. If you love our oceans but also love seafood, then you need Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, the country’s first independent tool to choosing your seafood wisely. The guide is now available online and for free as an iPhone App. The Android version is coming soon. 

Australian Fisheries Management: a snapshot
Who manages our fisheries?
Wild fisheries in Australia are generally managed either by the Commonwealth (federal) government’s Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) or by state and territory fisheries departments. Broadly speaking, state governments manage inshore waters while the Commonwealth manages the seas from three nautical miles offshore out to the 200 nautical mile limit of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). There are exceptions such as the fisheries of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which are mostly managed by the Queensland Government. Half of Australia’s seafood catch by weight is caught in state waters. In addition, the value of state fisheries is four times that of Commonwealth fisheries, so state fisheries play an important role in the way that our oceans are managed. Highly migratory fish that traverse our waters and international seas, such as tuna, are managed by regional fisheries management organisations.

How are they managed?
Australia’s fisheries are managed through a range of measures tailored to the type of fishery. The most common include catch limits or quotas, known as ‘output controls’, which set a maximum limit on the amount of fish that is allowed to be caught from a stock in a given year or fishing season. ‘Input controls’, such as limits to fishing vessel size, specific gear restrictions and areas closed to certain types of fishing, are also common. Traditional output and input controls have not always been effective at eliminating overfishing or mitigating the impact of fisheries on the environment. A precautionary approach is needed in setting catch limits for stocks under pressure. Many of our fisheries also need to move away from the outdated focus on managing single species or stocks in isolation, as this overlooks the effects of fishing on other fish species, other wildlife and the marine ecosystem. It is encouraging that, increasingly, Australian fisheries are introducing controls to protect the marine environment. For example, gear modifications to reduce the bycatch of threatened species are being introduced, such as the Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) used in many prawn trawls. However, there is still an urgent need for fisheries management in Australia to move towards an ‘ecosystem-based approach’ where the full impact of the fishery on the ocean ecosystem is considered in determining how the fishery is managed. This critical shift in management is needed as the foundation for future sustainability of Australian fisheries.

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Campaign Details

Group Leading this Campaign: Australian Marine Conservation Society

Main Issue of the Campaign:

Campaign Ran From: 2013 to 2013

Campaign Outcome:

Year Outcome Assessed:

Geographic Range of Activity:


Sustaining our Fisheries