Global fish stocks being decimated by unregulated fishing

Seafood production in Australia is on the rise but fish stocks around the world are in crisis.

Figures just released by the Australia Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics put the value of Australia’s seafood production for 2017 at $3 billion, up 9 per cent on last year.

Australia has a good sustainability record, and high-value products such as lobster, salmon, abalone and bluefin tuna are being exported to markets in Japan, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam.

But 70 per cent of seafood sold in Australia is imported, and the sustainability of that product is often dubious.

Key species threatened

Four million fishing boats ply the seas and most fisheries are unregulated.

Many key species around the world are threatened, including bluefin tuna, several species of shark, cod, haddock, sea bass, hake, red snapper and orange roughy.

Many northern hemisphere waters are fished out, West African fisheries are over-exploited, and the Gulf of Thailand and the Java Sea are close to exhaustion, according to environment groups.

Professor Clive Schofield, from the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security at Wollongong, is pessimistic about the future.

“The outlook is bleak. All of the trajectories the scientists give us are … heading towards zero,” he said.