Stock status classifications

Image by Julian Finn, Museum of Victoria

The Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks report 2014 (SAFS 2014) used a nationally agreed system for classifying the status of biological fish stocks. This system used scientific information to classify stocks into one of six classifications (see table below).

Evidence used during the classification process included the best scientific evidence available for growth, natural mortality, stock recruitment relationships and carrying capacity information and data from fishery dependent (e.g. catch and fishing effort) and fishery-independent (e.g. surveys) sources.

In Victoria, stock assessments are undertaken by Victorian Fisheries Authority scientists, in consultation with relevant scientific experts. Contact The Victorian Fisheries Authority for copies of our recent stock assessment reports.

Wherever possible, recent quantitative information (e.g. survey) is used to classify stocks. However, in some instances a weight of evidence approach is applied.

Stock status classification used in SAFS 2014


Potential implications for management of the stock

Classified as Sustainable

Stock for which biomass (or biomass proxy) is at a level sufficient to ensure that, on average, future levels of recruitment are adequate (i.e. not recruitment overfished) and for which fishing pressure is adequately controlled to avoid the stock becoming recruitment overfished.

Appropriate management is in place.

Classified as transitional recovering

Recovering stock — biomass is recruitment overfished, but management measures are in place to promote stock recovery, and recovery is occurring.

Appropriate management is in place, and the stock biomass is recovering.

Classified as transitional depleting

Deteriorating stock — biomass is not yet recruitment overfished, but fishing pressure is too high and moving the stock in the direction of becoming recruitment overfished.

Management is needed to reduce fishing pressure and ensure that the biomass does not deplete to an overfished state.

Classified as overfished

Spawning stock biomass has been reduced through catch, so that average recruitment levels are significantly reduced (i.e. recruitment overfished). Current management is not adequate to recover the stock; or adequate management measures have been put in place but have not yet resulted in measurable improvements.

Management is needed to recover this stock; if adequate management measures are already in place, more time may be required for them to take effect.

Classified as environmentally limited

Spawning stock biomass has been reduced to the point where average recruitment levels are significantly reduced, primarily as a result of substantial environmental changes / impacts or disease outbreaks (i.e. the stock is not recruitment overfished). Fisheries management has responded appropriately to the environmental change in productivity.

Appropriate management is in place.

Classified as Undefined

Not enough information exists to determine stock status.

Data required to assess stock status are needed.

Read more about the Commonwealth Government's Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks report.