About Whichfish

Whichfish is a pilot scheme, funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Independently commissioned assessments rapidly screen for environmental risks of Australian wild caught seafood using publicly available information.  Assessments  were then subject to independent peer review before publication on Whichfish.

Assessments were undertaken according to a ‘unit of assessment’ (UoA). The UoA is a combination of three main components: (i) the target species and stock; (ii) the gear type used by the fishery; and (iii) the management system under which the UoA operates.

Assessors assigned risk scores on the basis of the publicly available evidence.  This included information drawn from internet searches, or contributed by the fishery or fishery managers.   Scores were assigned as an aggregate score against each Performance Indicator (PI) taking into account performance against the scoring issues (SIs) and scoring guideposts (SGs):

  • PIs scored ‘low risk’ where they meet all of the medium risk scoring guideposts and the majority of the relevant low risk scoring guideposts;
  • PIs scored ‘medium risk’ where they meet all of the medium risk guideposts but not a majority of low risk scoring guideposts;
  • PIs  scored  ‘precautionary high risk’ where (a) the fishery does not meet the medium risk scoring guidepost because information is inadequate to draw a conclusion but does not indicate a serious sustainability problem, or (b) the available information indicates the medium risk scoring guidepost is not met, but does not indicate a serious sustainability problem;
  • PIs  scored  ‘high risk’ where they do not meet all of the medium risk scoring guideposts because the available evidence indicates a serious risk that the criteria will not be met by the Unit of Assessment.

An aggregate risk score for each Component (target species, environmental impacts of fishing and management) was then  assigned according to the following criteria:


Risk score Criteria
Low No high risk or precautionary high scores for performance indicators; no more than two medium risk scores; all other indicators are scored as low risk
Medium No high risk scores for performance indicators; no more than one precautionary high risk score; all other indicators are scored either medium or low risk
High At least one high risk score for performance indicators, or two or more precautionary high risk scores

An assessment of the future ‘outlook’ is provided against each component. Based on the available information and taking  into account any known management changes, this is a qualitative judgement of the assessor based on the likely future performance of the fishery over the short to medium term (0-3 years).   Outlook scores are provided for information only and do not influence current or future risk scoring.

New Zealand species have been assessed using an identical assessment procedure at  http://www.openseas.org.nz

UN Sustainable Development Goal  (SDG) 14

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end povertyprotect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. 

SDG Goal 14 is to Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. Whichfish provides information for businesses to report  their contribution to the achievement of this goal.  Further information on SDG14 can be found at https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/.