As provided in the Fisheries Administration Act 1991,AFMA is established to manage Commonwealth fisheries. AFMA is a body corporate which can sue and be sued, however it cannot hold money and all financial liabilities are taken to be liabilities of the Commonwealth.

AFMA’s domestic fisheries management functions and powers are the responsibility of the Commission. The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for assisting the Commission, including giving effect to its decisions.

The Chief Executive Officer is separately responsible for exercising AFMA’s foreign compliance functions and powers, and the Chief Executive’s responsibilities under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and Public Service Act 1999. The Chief Executive Officer and staff constitute a Statutory Agency under the Public Service Act 1999.

The minister appoints the chair, part-time commissioners and the chief executive officer. Following advice from the chair, the minister appoints a part-time commissioner as deputy chair.

The Commission is subject to limited government policy direction as stated in the Fisheries Administration Act 1991 section 91. The minister is the approving authority for AFMA’s corporate plan, annual operational plan and all fishery management plans determined by AFMA.

The Chief Executive Officer is subject to ministerial direction with regard to AFMA’s foreign compliance functions, and under the Public Service Act 1999 is required to be responsive to government in implementing the government’s policies and programs.

For more information about AFMA’s commissioners and senior management committees, see Appendix 3 on page 134-138.

Conflicts of interest

Commissioners cannot hold an executive position in a fishing industry association or a fishing concession granted under AFMA legislation or an executive position in a body corporate that holds a fishing concession, licence or permit or the majority of the voting share in a company that holds a fishing concession.

Commissioners must disclose to the minister any financial or other interest that may relate to their AFMA functions, both prior to appointment and whenever such interests arise during their terms of office. Disclosures of interests are kept on a register of interests held by the Commission, and a commissioner must not take part in any deliberation or decision in which he/she has such an interest.

Performance review

The Commission reviews its performance at every meeting. Issues reviewed may include its success in pursuing AFMA’s objectives; strategic direction; committee effectiveness; procedural matters including meeting frequency and detail, conduct of meetings, protocol and clarity of roles; and individual performance including attendance, contribution and knowledge of briefs. The Commission also holds a public meeting annually in different port areas.


Risk Management

AFMA’s corporate risk management has been in place in its present form since 2008 and its processes are embedded in agency planning, project management and fraud control. The risk management framework and corporate risk register are reviewed twice annually, with the last review conducted in February 2012.

Changes to risk registers are communicated through the Risk Management Committee and updated registers are ratified by the Executive as part of the six-monthly review. The risk management process is monitored by the Audit and Risk Committee, while AFMA Commission meetings have a standing agenda item to consider significant and current risks that potentially affect AFMA operations or reputation.

Business Continuity

The AFMA Business Continuity Management Plan identifies essential business activities and provides alternate arrangements in the event of unexpected disruption to normal service delivery. The plan allows the priority allocation of resources to critical business processes to ensure that AFMA continues to function effectively following a disaster. In doing this it incorporates cyclone response procedures for the Darwin and Thursday Island offices, information and communications technology disaster recovery and the AFMA pandemic plan.

The Business Continuity Management Plan was implemented in May 2010 and is updated annually to take account of organisational and functional changes. The AFMA Audit and Risk Committee monitors the production, maintenance and testing of the plan.

Fraud Control

During 2011-12 AFMA detected and investigated 151 external fraud related matters primarily associated with breaches of the domestic quota management arrangements and unauthorised fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone.   

In addition AFMA carried over a further 15 fraud related matters from the previous year.  Of the 151 fraud matters investigated AFMA finalised 131 as a result of instituting either administrative or prosecution action.  Twenty matters are still in the process of being finalised.

There were no reported external fraud issues associated with AFMA contractors or internal fraud matters detected during 2011-12.

In accordance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines 2011, AFMA produced the Fraud Control Plan 2012-14 in 2012. This plan incorporates information relating to AFMA’s approach to fraud control, the updated fraud risk assessment and strategies for fraud minimisation arising from the risk treatment recommendations.

Audit and Risk Committee

The Audit and Risk Committee was established under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 by the Chief Executive Officer. The purpose of the committee is to provide independent assurance and assistance to the Chief Executive Officer and the Commission (where relevant) on AFMA’s risk, control and compliance framework, and its external accountability responsibilities.  

For further information on the Audit and Risk Committee see page 136.


In May 2011, the Australian National Audit office commenced a follow-up audit of AFMA’s Domestic Fishing Compliance Program. The objective of the audit is to assess the effectiveness of the Domestic Fishing Compliance Program. The final report is expected to be tabled in parliament in February 2013.

There were no reports made to the Attorney General or Parliamentary Committee in relation to AFMA, however one complaint was made to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and has since been resolved.

In relation to external scrutiny involving judicial tribunals and decisions of administrative tribunals please refer to Appendix 1: Civil litigation outcomes on page 130.



Purchasing is conducted by each branch in accordance with our Chief Executive Instructions on procurement, having specific regard for the AFMA Procurement Guidelines which complement the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines.

The AFMA Procurement Guidelines set out two major thresholds:

  • Major procurements over $80 000 in value must be undertaken through a request for tender unless there is a specific exemption
  • Procurements under $80 000 must be undertaken in accordance with the minimum quotation and documentation rules set out in the guidelines as they apply to the value and risk of a proposed procurement.

In some cases, major procurements were undertaken through panel arrangements established by other agencies where the contractual provisions allowed. Major procurements undertaken during the year included calls for research proposals, illegal foreign fishing related arrangements, and data service provisions.

AFMA has revised its guidelines to comply with the new Commonwealth Procurement Rules which came into effect on 1 July 2012.

Asset management

AFMA manages its assets in accordance with the relevant Financial Management and Accountability Act requirements, accounting standards and Chief Executive Instructions.

Departmental assets of $24.0m include cash, receivables, land, buildings, property plant and equipment, intangibles and other assets. Administered assets of $1.1m include vessel disposal facilities and receivables.

An asset register is maintained in our Financial Management Information System for all software and equipment valued at more than $2000, or where the equipment is of material balance as a group (for example, computer equipment).


During the financial year, we entered into contracts with a range of suppliers for the provision of goods and services. These contracts are reported in accordance with government policy:

  • all contracts over $10 000 are listed on our internal contracts register
  • all contracts over $10 000 are reported on the Austender website
  • all contracts over $100 000 are listed on our website twice a year

During the year, we entered into 34 consultancy contracts valued at $3.1m where specialised or professional skills were not available internally or where we identified a need for independent research or assessment.

Further information on consultancy contracts is available on the Austender website

Advertising and market research

During the financial year we spent $7000 on advertising. Most of this expenditure related to recruitment, fishery notices and media monitoring. There were no individual payments over $2338.

Discretionary grants

AFMA does not administer discretionary grants.


AFMA’s planning and reporting framework consists of obligations under the Fisheries Administration Act 1991, whole-of-government requirements, and internal documents we produce for the purpose of good governance.

The key elements are:

Corporate Plan

This plan identifies factors in AFMA’s operating environment that may affect AFMA’s operations, and sets out AFMA’s principal goals for the next three, four or five years. The plan also outlines the strategies AFMA will use to pursue those goals and key performance indicators for measuring our performance. We have reported against the goals and strategies identified in our Corporate Plan 2011-16 on pages 11 to 24.

Annual Operational Plan

The annual operational plan covers 12 months and gives detail to the strategies identified in the relevant corporate plan. We have reported against the key performance indicators described in our Annual Operational Plan 2011-12 on pages 12 to 24.

Portfolio Budget Statements

AFMA contributes to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolio statements. The purpose of the portfolio budget statements is to inform Senators and Members of Parliament of the proposed allocation of resources to government outcomes. Within this document, AFMA sets out its broad strategic direction, budget estimates against specific outputs and key performance indicators.

Internal reporting

Each quarter, AFMA reports to its Chief Executive Officer and Commission against the key result areas, strategies and key performance indicators identified in its corporate and annual operational plans. This ensures that progress is on track and simplifies the process of annual reporting.

Annual Report

The annual report provides information on AFMA’s operations and performance, including reporting against the measures set out in the corporate plan, annual operational plan and portfolio budget statements.