This section covers Australia's fisheries resources and activities relating to their protection and use.
The Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) covers an area 16% larger than the Australian land mass and is the third largest fishing zone in the world. However, the 181,000 tonnes of produce harvested from the AFZ are insignificant by world standards, reflecting low productivity of the oceans rather than underuse of the resource. While some species are considered to be over-harvested, some fish resources such as albacore and southern whiting are not being used optimally. Over 3,000 species of marine and freshwater fish, and at least an equal number of crustacean and mollusc species, occur in and around Australia. Less than 600 of these are accessed commercially.
The level of fishing activity has increased over the last decade to the point where almost all the major known fish, crustacean and mollusc resources are fully used. Some major species such as southern bluefin tuna, gemfish and shark have suffered serious biological depletion.
The status of Australia's Commonwealth managed or jointly managed fisheries resources is summarised in map 17.14.
17.14 STATUS OF COMMONWEALTH MANAGED OR JOINTLY MANAGED FISHERIES RESOURCES
Source: Bureau of Rural Sciences.