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Seaweek 2010: Oceans of Life - ours to explore; ours to restore


• Over-fishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level, often to where there is no longer adequate replenishment of stock and the fish species will start to decline and with no change eventually die out.

• Over-fishing can adversely affect coral reefs as it upsets the delicate balance of the ecosystem. For example if too many of the algae grazing fish are taken the algae will proliferate leaving no space for the coral to grow and blocking out sunlight.

• On the GBR, marine megafauna (big marine creatures such as whales, sharks, crocodiles, turtles, and dugongs) have been fished extensively; dugongs have declined by more than 90% in the past 30 years. Larger species of fish such as groupers and snappers have also been overfished depleting stocks significantly. The GBR is quite unusual compared to other countries where there is much subsistence fishing of herbivorous fish as well as predator fish. However, recreational fishing is extremely popular on the GBR with the catch by recreational hook and line fishing for predatory fishes rivaling commercial fishing.

• In some developing countries, destructive fishing practices are used, such as cyanide poison and dynamite fishing, which destroy coral and other marine creatures as well as the targeted fish.

• Over-fishing is a significant issue in many parts of the world including Australia. Collectively humans have rid the ocean of 90% of predatory fish species. To ensure you are not eating endangered species, go onto the internet and find sustainable fish shopping lists which tell you which fish not to eat and which are a better alternative.

• No Take Areas (NTAs) are an important way of protecting fish stocks and maintaining a healthy ecosystem, helping to maintain fish stocks. Many tourist operators go to NTAs so that snorkelers and divers can see more fish.

Further links:

• The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Fisheries):

• The QLD department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (Fisheries):

• CRC Reef (Fisheries of Queensland’s East coast):

• CRC Reef (Fishing):

• Greenpeace Australia (Over-fishing):

• Coral Reefs Journal (Article on over-fishing and impacts on food webs):

• Australian Marine Conservation Society (for a Sustainable Seafood Guide)

• ABC Science- Sustainable Fish Shopping Guide




Trawlers and other commercial fishing boats, at moorings in Trinity Inlet, in Cairns
from GBRMPA Image Collection

Recreational fishing on the GBR
from GBRMPA Image Collection

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