A record number of croaker-fishing boats are on Australian shores as a growing number of Australian fisheries are facing a collapse in their fishing revenues, with many fishermen predicting the collapse in stocks could see them wiped out.
Key points:Fishermen fear a decline in croaker fishing stocks could hit Australia’s fishing industrySource: The Australian Financial ReviewA report by the Australian Fishermen’s Association says croaker numbers are currently falling by between 15% and 25% in some areas, and that they could fall by as much as 80% in a decade.
Key facts:The annual harvest of croakers is around 500,000 tonnes, which represents less than 3% of Australia’s fish catchSource: WWF-AustraliaIt’s not just the big fish:A third of Australia has less than a million croaker fisheries in total, which means the total catch is only about 5% of the country’s fish total.
And the decline is happening in the heart of the South Australia-based fishing industry, which relies on the fish that croaker catches provide.
The Australian Fisherman’s Association (AFSA) has found that in the past three years croaker catch in South Australia has declined by between 45% and 50% compared to the same period last year.
The decline has been driven by the declining catches of some of Australia ‘s most popular fish, such as scallops and swordfish.
“The decline in the croaker fishery is being driven by a number of factors, including changes in the fishing industry and changes in water quality,” the AFSA said in its report.
“These are the factors that we are most concerned about and we are urging the government to act now to ensure that croakers are not lost to the fisheries and that fish stocks remain robust.”
Fishing industry has long faced pressure to cut costs, but the loss of croaking fishing has been a problem for years.
It was in the early 2000s that the Australian Fishing Industry Association, a group of fishing industry stakeholders, called for the Government to increase the croaking quota to help maintain a sustainable fishery, but was met with little action.
“It was quite a challenging time to be in that situation in the 2000s, as the quota system was changing and it was quite difficult to get the fish you wanted to catch in the waters we were fishing,” Mr Ruggles said.
“Now we are back to where we were in the late 1990s, and there’s really a need for a change to make the croakers a little bit more attractive.”‘
They are just going to be the croake’If croakers aren’t going to make up the majority of the catch, what’s to stop the industry from going into overdrive and trying to harvest more?
“There are two options,” Mr Sargent said.
“Either we just go full throttle and have a complete disaster, or we try to keep croaker stocks down as much possible, and we try and make sure they are kept on the bottom of the water, so we don’t take over and turn it into something else.”
Fisherman John Millington says there are several options for the croakers to stay in the water.
“You just try to catch the croaky fish that you want to fish and it’s not too difficult,” he said.
In South Australia, there is a group called the Southern Fish Management Committee (SFSMC) that is spearheading a campaign to improve the cropping regime.
“There’s a number that are really concerned about the croaks being used to boost the catch,” Mr Millingwood said.”[But] they’re just going be the crake in the end.”
Farmed by croaker, they are not in the market for fish.
In Victoria, the fish population is at a level not seen in decades.
“Fish populations are declining rapidly, and croaker is one of the main drivers of that,” Mr Kew said.
The SFSMC is also spearheading an appeal to government to change the croking quota system to ensure fish stocks can remain stable.
Topics:fishing-aquaculture,industry,industries,government-and-politics,government,environment,south-adelaide-5000,vic,australiaFirst posted March 01, 2020 13:50:08Contact James RuggenshawMore stories from South Australia