World Fisheries Congress
Australian Fisheries

Australian initiatives on the agenda at the World Fisheries Congress

From 3 – 7 March 2024, representatives from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) joined over a thousand delegates from around the world for the 9th World Fisheries Congress in Seattle, Washington.

Organised through the World Council of Fisheries Societies, every four years delegates meet to exchange ideas and perspectives about new research, emerging issues, scientific breakthroughs, and governance related to fisheries science, industry, conservation, and management.

The theme for 2024 was Fish and Fisheries at the Food-Water-Energy Nexus and explored sustainability, fish and aquatic ecosystems, fisheries and society, and innovations in fisheries.

AFMA hosted a symposium to share insights and discuss the challenges of integrating climate risk into decision making processes, and managing multi-species fisheries in a climate change hot spot. 

The Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) has been the focus of two important initiatives by AFMA including the integration of the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems into decision-making processes and transitioning to a multi-species fishery harvest strategy in one of Australia’s most valuable multi-species and multi-gear fisheries.

Daniel Corrie, Senior Manager of AFMA’s Climate Adaptation Program, said that the influence of climate change on Commonwealth fisheries is evident and we must establish process to mitigate the impacts. 

“The effects of climate change on marine ecosystems are accelerating with projections indicating that fish production will be further affected well into the future, even to the point where management advice that doesn’t consider this change could be rendered invalid.”

“We are developing a climate risk framework to integrate climate risk into our decision making processes, including total allowable catch decisions. The framework is based on a risk assessment approach, like that which has been utilised in other fisheries internationally, to integrate ecosystem and environmental considerations and uncertainty into management advice.”

“Climate-driven shifts in ecosystem function, the failure of some stocks to recover from historical overfishing despite management interventions, competition for marine space and economic pressures, all pose significant challenges for Commonwealth fisheries, the SESSF is a prime example of this,” Mr Corrie said.

To complement the climate risk framework, AFMA is exploring avenues for alternative and more efficient ways of doing business by using emerging technologies, reviewing harvest strategies, contributing to policy reviews, prompting cross-jurisdictional and inter-agency collaboration, and embracing co-management with industry. In isolation, none of these issues are insurmountable. The challenge, however, is bringing all these solutions together in a cohesive, strategic, and timely manner for each fishery.

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