AN EMINENT marine scientist says Australians are being misled about the state of our fisheries without any sound scientific evidence to back the claims.
Professor Ray Hilborn, of the University of Washington's school of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences said an anti-fishing campaign has led to unnecessary government-imposed restrictions on fishing, when Australia is home to some of the best-managed fisheries in the world. "Australia is subject to a relentless anti-fishing campaign that is causing doom and gloom myths from misrepresentations of overseas examples of inadequate fisheries management," he said.
Prof Hilborn is in Australia conducting a series of briefings for industry stakeholders and politicians and releasing a paper titled "Australian Seafood Consumers misled by prophets of gloom and doom".
"Australia did not always have its current enviable record in fisheries management, but addressed the generic overfishing problem forcefully," he said.
"Destructive fishing practices and continued overfishing are no longer significant problems."
"The great majority of fished stocks are in very good shape and, even more importantly for long-term sustainability, the situation continues to improve."
"It's difficult to understand why the Australian public is not rejoicing in the success of its fisheries management and why Australians believe they need to implement additional, alternative restrictions on fishing, such as more fishing closures in marine parks. With such restrictions, Australia is effectively exporting responsibility for the sustainable management of the world's fish stock to countries with a far-inferior record for sustainability."
Sydney Fish Market is sponsoring the visit and its managing director, Grahame Turk, welcomed Prof Hilborn's findings.
"We support reasonable debate founded on thorough, scientific analysis as Dr Hilborn advocates," he said.
The Grafton Daily Examiner attempted to contact marine science academics at Southern Cross University campuses at Coffs Harbour and Lismore but did not receive a reply before deadline.