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Tuesday, 25 November 2003
Page: 22868

Mr Kelvin Thomson asked the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 13 October 2003:

(1) Is he aware of a report by scientists from the University of Canberra and CSIRO Resource Futures which found that almost 60% of Australia's fisheries are over-fished and that this could increase to 68% by 2020.

(2) Is he able to say whether this assessment is correct.

(3) Does the report identify the WA Snapper Fishery as being under particular threat.

(4) What action is the Government taking to address the issue of over-fishing of these fisheries.

Dr Kemp (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes, I am aware of the report. The report is entitled “Modelling Australia's Fisheries to 2050: Policy and Management Implications” by Drs. R. Kearney, B. Foran, F. Poldy and D. Lowe. The report makes preliminary projections on the future status of fisheries and capacity to satisfy seafood supply demands to 2050.

(2) As in any predictive modelling exercise the accuracy of the report depends on a great number of variables and availability of further data. The report findings are generally consistent with the overall assessment by the Commonwealth Bureau of Rural Sciences Fishery Status Reports 2003 on the current status of 70 principal species in Commonwealth fisheries.

(3) There are a number of fisheries identified as of concern. The WA Snapper fishery is one example where increased attention is warranted in order to ensure sustainability of the resource.

(4) Management of fisheries in Australian waters is the responsibility of the Commonwealth and the States. My Department is undertaking a comprehensive assessment program on the ecologically sustainable management of all Commonwealth managed fisheries and export State managed fisheries. These assessments address strict guidelines developed by the Commonwealth to meet the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.