Status of Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) reports 2016 and beyond: Independent project audit
PJ Neville and Associates
Primary drivers for National reporting of the Status of Australian Fish Stocks include: (1) key finding of the State of the Environment Report 2011 (Report to the Environment Minister by independent expert committee): ‘lack of a nationally integrated approach inhibits effective marine management’ (2) a recommendation of the House of Representatives Inquiry into the Role of Science for Fisheries and Aquaculture (Netting the Benefits Report 2012): ‘producing national status report regularly’ (3) the Australian Fisheries Management Forum (AFMF) national statement of intent (to provide fishing and aquaculture stakeholders with an understanding of management and policy directions that fisheries agencies will work towards over the next few years): Goal 1 of the statement of intent is ‘Australia's fisheries and aquaculture industries are managed, and acknowledged to be ecologically sustainable’; A key focus area is promoting community awareness and understanding of fisheries and aquaculture management and the ecological status of Australia’s fish resources; A key outcome of this goal is the National Status of Australian Fish Stocks Report. (4) the National Fishing and Aquaculture Strategy 2015–20 (which documents six goals aligned with the food security section of The National Marine Science Plan 2015–2025: Driving the development of Australia’s blue economy): Goal 1 of this strategy is ‘Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors are well managed, and acknowledged to be ecologically sustainable’; The success of this goal will be measured by (i) Improved understanding of community perceptions of the acceptability of fishing and aquaculture in Australia’, and (ii) Increased number of fisheries assessed as environmentally sustainable in the Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports. This includes reducing the number of stocks assessed as uncertain. (5) the FRDC RD&E Plan 2015–20: National priority one focuses on ‘Ensuring that Australian fishing and aquaculture products are sustainable and acknowledged to be so’. At this point in time, it is important to determine if SAFS is meeting is objectives, hence the need for an independent audit.
1. Conduct an review/audit of the SAFS Report according to the Terms of reference outlined in the Project Agreement
2. Submit a final report to the FRDC 30 April 2017
The independent audit of the Status of Australian Fish Stock (SAFS) reports was commissioned by the FRDC to assess the adequacy and efficacy of the SAFS 2016 reports as a strategic reporting tool to satisfy the intended objectives of SAFS, firstly to establish a national common framework for stock status reporting to assist in, and report on, measuring fisheries management performance; and secondly to serve as a reference document to be accessed by a wide range of stakeholders to positively influence their opinions of the fishing industry.
In terms of the first objective, SAFS represents a significant advancement in measuring the performance of fisheries management by creating the first independent and scientifically based, common national framework for stock status reporting across all fisheries jurisdictions in Australia. SAFS has led to greater joint collaboration, as well as transfers of methodologies and processes, to deliver higher quality and more credible stock status reporting which can be accessed nationally and internationally; contributed to upgrading government and public reporting; and asisted in policy decisions regarding changes to particular fisheries management arrangements and in research priorities.
In terms of the second objective, the consensus is that it is unrealistic to expect SAFS, in the one form, to satisfy both objectives and that a different approach/product is needed to satisfy this second objective. It was recommended that a more targeted communication and extension strategy needs to be developed to satisfy the second objective.