Overfishing, climate change, and a general air that “it’ll be alright, hey?” are responsible for a shocking declining of Australia’s various fish populations, which are being depleted at a rapid rate.
A groundbreaking study by the University of Tasmania and Sydney’s UTS, which took place over ten years, tracked 200 separate species across 544 sites.
There has been a 30% decrease of fish over 20cm. When you take into account the legal size and bag limit for fishing in NSW (it’s fairly consistent across all Aussie states) and the varying results in restricted or banned areas compared to waters where fishing is permitted – overfishing would appear to be the main culprit.
“We found consistent population declines amongst many popular commercial and recreational fishes, including in marine parks that allowed limited fishing, while numbers increased within no-fishing reserves,” lead author Graham Edgar explained, adding this needs “immediate multinational attention.”
“Effective recovery of fish populations, so that catch can be doubled from the present very low levels, cannot occur without major change to business as usual,” said Edgar.
“There is little doubt that in Australian waters, with proper design and placement, marine reserves would assist fish population recovery,” added co-author Trevor Ward. “Eventually this would lead to increased catches for all fishers.”