Progress against actions required by the Ministerial Direction as at June 30 2011

In December 2005, the then Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation issued a formal Direction to AFMA. The aim of this Direction was to initiate key actions to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks and secure the future of the Australian fishing industry. As part of the Direction, AFMA is required to report on the impact of the Direction on the operations of AFMA.

Component of the Direction Specified Timeframe Progress/Proposed Action
1. Take a more strategic, science-based approach to setting total allowable catch and/or effort levels in Commonwealth fisheries, consistent with the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy 1 January 2008 Thirteen harvest strategies covering eleven fisheries have been developed and implemented under the Harvest Strategy Policy
2. The total allowable catch for the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery be set at zero for 2006–08 Effectively 1 May 2006 The total allowable catch was set at zero for 2006–08. A significant stock rebuild occurred under the zero catch limit and a new harvest strategy for the fishery was implemented in 2009

Based on the application of the new harvest strategy the total allowable catch was set to 3000 tonnes and 2000 tonnes for the 2010 and 2011 fishing seasons respectively
3. Implement the government policy of managing Commonwealth fisheries using output controls in the form of individual transferable quota

Where quota or effort based statutory fishing rights have been granted, determine whether boat permits and/or boat statutory fishing rights are an impediment to autonomous adjustment or to efficient management
Implementation of individual transferable quota where appropriate by 2010; determine whether boat statutory fishing rights could be phased out by 2010 if appropriate AFMA is continuing to implement the government’s policy of managing Commonwealth fisheries using individual transferable quota

Currently the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark, Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop, Heard Island and McDonald Island, Macquarie Island, Southern Bluefin Tuna, Eastern Tuna and Billfish and Western Tuna and Billfish fisheries have individual transferable quota implemented

AFMA is currently moving two fisheries, the Small Pelagic and Northern Prawn fisheries to individual transferable quota

Individual transferable quota is expected to be implemented in the Northern Prawn Fishery in mid 2012 once management plan amendments have taken place

Once this is achieved, all major Commonwealth fisheries will be managed using individual transferable quota

In June 2008, the then AFMA Board approved recommendations set out in an independent report that boat statutory fishing rights and permits should remain and are generally not an impediment to autonomous adjustment or efficient management
4. Minimise incentives for discarding of quota species and manage the broader environmental impacts of fishing including minimising interactions with threatened or otherwise protected species Not specified A review of Commonwealth quota management system arrangements has commenced and will explicitly consider management arrangements for discarding. This review will be completed in 2011–12

The principles for minimising discards and managing the environmental impacts of fishing are contained in AFMA’s Program for Addressing Bycatch and Discarding in Commonwealth Fisheries: an Implementation Strategy, finalised in February 2008. Fishery-specific bycatch and discard workplans have been implemented in the Eastern and Western Tuna and Billfish, Great Australian Bight, Western Deepwater and North West Slope Trawl, Northern Prawn, Gillnet Hook and Trap, South East Trawl, Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop, Small Pelagic and Coral Sea fisheries

During 2010–11, AFMA has introduced specific management arrangements to minimise interactions with threatened endangered and protected species and some dogfish species in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. Also, in the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery a range of mitigation measures and limits were implemented to minimise the impact on seasbirds in association with the introduction of longlining in the fishery
5. Enhance monitoring of fishing activity, for example through increased use of vessel monitoring systems with daily reporting, and onboard cameras Not specified Vessel monitoring systems are compulsory in all Commonwealth fisheries and monitoring programs are in place to ensure compliance with these requirements

Onboard cameras have been trialled as part of the e-monitoring trials in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish, Northern Prawn and Gillnet Hook and Trap fisheries

Cameras are currently being fitted to 12 boats in the Gillnet Hook and Trap Fishery

Specific observer programs are operating in 12 fisheries
6. Establish a system of fishery independent surveys Not specified Fishery independent surveys have been developed and implemented in most major fisheries, including the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark, Eastern Tuna and Billfish, Northern Prawn, Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop, Heard and McDonald Islands Macquarie Island Toothfish, and Southern Bluefin Tuna fisheries
7. Identify and implement any required spatial closures in fisheries and coordinate closures with agencies implementing marine protected areas Not specified Spatial closures are now in place in a number of Commonwealth fisheries and spatial management is being used to reduce the number of high risk species identified in the ecological risk assessments

The Fisheries Management Amendment Regulation 2010 No. 1 was introduced on 12 February 2010, which further enhances AFMA’s ability to monitor and enforce closures

AFMA has an engagement strategy for its involvement with the marine bioregional planning process being carried out by the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. The marine bioregional planning process includes the identification of marine reserves to be included in Australia’s National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. AFMA also holds membership on the National Marine Protected Area Working Group and works closely with the Department of Sustainability Environment, Water, Population and Communities staff for particular issues

During 2010 –11, additional spatial closures have been implemented in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery to afford greater protection to Australian Sea Lions and some dogfish species
8. Strengthen advice to the Commission by engaging high-level expertise in economics and science Not specified A Senior Economist was appointed to AFMA in 2007 to provide high level advice to AFMA, the Commission, and management advisory committees on the pursuit of maximum economic yield and incorporating economic objectives into day-to-day fisheries management

A contact list of economic and biological experts from domestic and international research agencies and academic institutions has been established that can be called upon to provide the Commission with additional advice on key decisions, on a case-by-case basis. Scientific advice on key issues for AFMA can also be sought from CSIRO under a memorandum of understanding

AFMA has a memorandum of understanding with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. Under this memorandum the bureau will provide expert scientific and economic advice and mapping services to AFMA on request
9. Reporting to the Minister on how AFMA is implementing the direction May 2006
Nov. 2006
May 2007
June 2008
All reports were submitted on time

The requirements of the Ministerial Direction have been incorporated into the key strategies to be pursued by AFMA

These are outlined in AFMA’s corporate planning and accountability documents such as the Corporate Plan 2009-14 and the Annual Operational Plan 2010–11. AFMA reports annually on its progress against both of these documents in the annual report