About us

How we work
What we’ve achieved

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is the Australian Government agency responsible for the efficient management and sustainable use of Commonwealth fish resources on behalf of the Australian community.

We need to ensure that fishing is conducted in a sustainable way to provide the benefits we get today, such as healthy seafood and employment, while also making sure that there will be fish around for future generations to enjoy.

As a general rule of thumb, AFMA looks after commercial fisheries from three nautical miles out to the extent of the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ). The states and the Northern Territory generally look after recreational, commercial coastal and inland fishing and aquaculture.

AFMA provides fisheries management services to Joint Authorities of the Commonwealth and state governments, including the Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA).

AFMA is also responsible for deterring illegal fishing in the AFZ in cooperation with the other Australian Government agencies responsible for border protection through our foreign compliance functions.

How we work

In managing Commonwealth fisheries resources on behalf of the Australian community and key stakeholders, we:

  • process licensing and entitlement transactions for all Commonwealth fisheries (excluding Torres Strait) to give effect to fisheries management arrangements
  • collect licence fees and management levies from foreign and domestic fishers to allow for cost recovery of licensing and management services
  • ensure that each fishery is assessed on a continuing basis and that important gaps in knowledge are identified and overcome through research projects
  • manage a substantial data collection program through our Logbook Program; we collect catch, effort and other information from operators in all Commonwealth managed and Torres Strait Protected Zone fisheries to provide an understanding of the characteristics of each fishery
  • we provide professional observer services to domestic and foreign fishing vessels operating within the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ), including sub-Antarctic territories and waters controlled under the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic and Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
  • detect and investige illegal fishing activity by both domestic and foreign fishing boats in the AFZ and Commonwealth fisheries
  • participate in an advisory capacity to Australian delegations, in international forums such as the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, the Forum Fisheries Commission, Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)

What we’ve achieved

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) was established in 1991 to take responsibility for the efficient management and sustainable use of Commonwealth fish resources on behalf of the Australian community. Since then there have been some key achievements of the agency including:

The Domestic compliance program

AFMA can use a range of compliance and enforcement measures  in response to breaches of fisheries management rules. Compliance and enforcement is only one element of regulatory activity that is carried out by AFMA in administering this Act. More information on the Domestic Compliance Program.

Foreign fisheries compliance

Our  foreign compliance programs have contributed to the deterrence of illegal, unregulated and unreported foreign fishing particularly in the Australian Fishing Zone but also on the high seas.


AFMA started a program to trial co-management in selected Commonwealth fisheries in May 2008. Trials were developed and implemented in two sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery and the Northern Prawn Fishery to see more productive working relationships and engagement with stakeholders. While trials are continuing, the project is now in the review phase.

Marine bioregional planning

AFMA provides information to the fishing industry on the marine bioregional planning process as well as providing factual information to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. AFMA has taken an active role in the marine bioregional planning process to ensure that the broader interests of Australia’s sustainable commercial fisheries are taken into consideration.

Licensing and quota management

In November 2009 AFMA successfully launched GOFish, its first online business facility. It provides commercial fishers the opportunity to have greater control over their quota and licences.

Environment and sustainability

Ecological risk assessments are a powerful tool for identifying fisheries management priorities to sustainably manage fishing impacts on our marine species and environments. Assessments have been conducted in all major fisheries. AFMA is now in the process of developing ecological risk management strategies to address the priority lists of each fishery.

Cost recovery

AFMA recovers management costs from the commercial fishing industry under fisheries legislation and the Australian Government’s cost recovery policy. A Cost Recovery Impact Statement was developed in accordance with the government’s Cost Recovery Guidelines for regulatory agencies and certified in February 2004 following consultation with stakeholders. This was reviewed in 2009.

Management advisory committees

Management advisory committees (MACs) have been established for all major fisheries to foster close working relationships with industry.

Management plans

Management plans have been developed for all major fisheries.

Harvest strategies

In September 2007 the Australian Government published its Harvest Strategy Policy. The Harvest Strategy Policy articulates acceptable levels of risk to the Australian Government in AFMA’s management of Commonwealth fisheries. Consistent with the policy AFMA has implemented a total of 13 harvest strategies.