Feature story

‘SHOW CAUSE’ PROGRAM HAS PROVEN TO INCREASE COMPLIANCE

In AFMA’s 2010–11 risk assessment process, fishing boats were identified fishing or navigating inside fishery closures. This activity was assessed as an occasional but significant risk. A “show cause” program was developed to deal with the potential fishing and navigation breaches inside closures.

The program works by identifying operators assessed as potentially having fished or navigated inside closures and suppling them with a snapshot of their activity, from AFMA’s vessel monitoring system. The snapshot highlightes their entry, internal movements and exit from closures. The identified operators were sent a letter asking them to explain or “show cause” for their activity, with the threat of potential compliance action being taken if they were unable to provide a satisfactory explanation.

The show cause program assisted in a number of positive compliance outcomes as it:

  • made operators aware that AFMA analyses vessel monitoring system data on a regular basis
  • placed the onus on operators to explain their identified activity
  • reminded operators that AFMA reserved the right to take enforcement action if the explanation provided was unsatisfactory
  • made operators aware that not complying with closures was likely to be detected

After running the program for a year, the incidence of fishing or navigating in fishery closures had decreased markedly. During the initial three-month measurement phase from July to September 2010 there was an average of 11 breaches per month of fishing or navigating inside a fishery closure. Within a year, this number had dropped to less than two breaches per month.

This is an excellent example of how AFMA is using a combination of innovative and traditional mechanisms in a cost-effective way to achieve compliance in Commonwealth fisheries.

This graph demonstrates the dramatic decrease in detected closure breaches after the show cause initiative was implemented.

This graph demonstrates the dramatic decrease in detected closure breaches after the show cause initiative was implemented.