Even more ominous is the complete removal of any intention to develop alternatives to managing fisheries at maximum sustainable yield (MSY). MFish has replaced this with an action point to “set and implement fisheries harvest strategy standards”.
However, harvest standards all reference to the stock level (biomass) required to achieve this elusive maximum sustainable yield!
option4 supports managing fisheries at higher biomass levels because maximum sustainable yield is a knife-edge target that is hard to measure and very difficult, if not impossible, to know when surpassed.
After more than 20 years of the quota system MFish only has sufficient information to evaluate 117 out of the total 628 fish stocks. Seventy nine of those 117 fisheries are near or above target levels. 18 are considered depleted, eight collapsed and 19 are being overfished.
MFish and the fishing industry are already working towards reducing research and management costs so there is unlikely to be a major change in available information, particularly for those fisheries where there is little prospect of increasing commercial catch limits.
To overcome this information deficit we need to err on the side of caution, because we need abundant stocks of fish to enable us to provide for our social and cultural wellbeings.
We do not need another pre-determined reform process that will ultimately deny our children and grandchildren their right to have more fish in the water and a healthy marine environment.