Part 2

Our performance

Highlights

Part 2

Image show highlights of AFMA performance

Performance measurement framework

AFMA's objectives

Table 01: AFMA objectives

AFMA's objectives

The objectives we must pursue in performing our functions are set
out in the Fisheries Administration Act 1991 and are in essence:

EFFICIENT AND COST—EFFECTIVE FISHERIES MANAGEMENT

Implement efficient and cost—effective fisheries management arrangements. Ensure such arrangements and related activities implement Australia's obligations under relevant international agreements

ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Ensure fishing and related activity is consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, including exercise of the precautionary principle,
with regard to the long term sustainability of the marine environment.

MAXIMISE NET ECONOMIC RETURNS

Maximise net economic returns to the Australian community from the management of Australian fisheries.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Ensure accountability to the fishing industry and to the Australian community in our management of fisheries resources.

COST RECOVERY

Achieve government targets in relation to recovery of costs.

Effective pursuit of these objectives enables AFMA to achieve its outcome of:

Ecologically sustainable and economically efficient Commonwealth fisheries, through understanding and monitoring Australia's marine living resources and regulating and monitoring commercial fishing, including domestic licensing and deterrence of illegal foreign fishing.

In so doing, AFMA aims to deliver improved net economic returns to the Australian community and improve the ecological sustainability of Commonwealth fisheries as a whole. The achievements outlined in the following sections of this annual report evidence AFMA's positive performance for 2014–15 against this agenda.

Goals and strategies

AFMA's Corporate Plan 2014–2017 sets out the eight main goals and their associated strategies that we have adopted to pursue our objectives and outcome.

Table 02: Corporate Plan 2014–2017 goals and strategies

Corporate Plan 2014–2017 goals and strategies

Goal

Strategy

1. Manage key commercial species at levels that support maximum economic yield.
  • Manage fisheries in line with the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines and AFMA Harvest Strategy Framework.
  • Implement measures to recover remaining overfished stocks.
2. Improve the net economic returns of Commonwealth fisheries.
  • Facilitate the development of underutilised fisheries resources.
  • Support the Department of Agriculture and fishery stakeholders in the revision of the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines.
  • Develop and implement approaches to further reduce the amount of discarded fish.
3. Prevent unacceptable impacts of Commonwealth fisheries on marine ecosystems and organisms.
  • Regularly review fishery risks and management measures under AFMA's Ecological Risk Management Framework.
  • Continue to manage fisheries in line with the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch (Bycatch Policy).
4. Implement management arrangements and frameworks that are both cost effective and encourage compliance.
  • Make fisheries management arrangements more uniform, understandable and enforceable with appropriate penalties.
  • Continue to improve business processes, information flows and financial arrangements to reduce costs.
  • Continue to improve the effectiveness of quota management for Commonwealth Fisheries through the Quota Administration Policy and related instruments.
  • Apply individual accountability in appropriate fisheries.
5. Effectively deter illegal fishing in Commonwealth fisheries, the Australian Fishing Zone and adjacent regions.
  • Conduct and enable compliance programs that target identified high risks.
  • Conduct capacity building programs with neighbouring countries to enhance fisheries management and governance frameworks and compliance programs.
  • Promote and advocate deterrence, prevention and cooperation at regional fisheries forums to deter illegal fishing.
6. Streamline regulations and approvals and reduce costs of compliance and fisheries management.
  • Further adapt business processes and technologies that match the core needs of AFMA and its stakeholders.
  • Continue to reduce regulatory burden and cost to industry through reduction of red tape and unnecessary regulatory requirements, including establishment investment in electronic monitoring and data transfer technologies, and upgrading of fishery—management specific software.
  • Explore opportunities to streamline fisheries assessments under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
7. Facilitate co—management 1 in Commonwealth fisheries.
  • For fisheries under the Fisheries Management Act 1991, apply lessons from co—management trials and assist the development of new arrangements.
8. Transparent and effective engagement with the community and other stakeholders.
  • Improve communications in a style usable by stakeholders through appropriate media channels.
  • Ensure the effective operation of management advisory committees and resource assessment groups, as the principal source of advice to the AFMA Commission.
  • Increase public accessibility and availability of scientific and other fishery management information.
  • Continue to work with the Department of Agriculture in servicing regional fisheries management organisations and other international fishery bodies

To address this Corporate Plan, AFMA identified in its Annual Operational Plan the intended actions for delivery in 2014–15. These actions concentrated on providing cost effective fisheries management, targeted compliance programs, efficient licensing services and developing operational policies and regulations based on the best available scientific advice about Australian marine living resources that are affected by Commonwealth fisheries. Our performance against the intended actions is reported in pages 16–59.

Table 03: Planning and Reporting Structure This image show s the planning and reporting structure at AFMA

Performance against intended actions

Goal 1: Manage key commercial species at levels that support maximum economic yield

Strategy 1.1: Manage fisheries in line with the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines and AFMA's Harvest Strategy Framework

AFMA's role is to ensure sustainable fishing in Australian Commonwealth managed fisheries contributes the highest possible benefit to the Australian people. Maximum economic yield sets catch limits at a level that aims to maximize profits for the fishery as a whole and at the same time protects the fishery from becoming overfished.

The Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines also require AFMA to pursue maximum net economic yields from Commonwealth fisheries. More detailed fishery level reporting on our performance against this Harvest Strategy is on pages 60 to 107.

AFMA and associated organisations, such as the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, commission research that supports science based fisheries management decisions to manage fish stocks sustainably.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Implement harvest strategies which have targets based on maximum economic yield or the best target based on available scientific information.

Total allowable catches (or total allowable effort 2) were set for the following fisheries in accordance with the relevant harvest strategies:

  • Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery
  • Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery
  • Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery
  • Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery
  • Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery
  • Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery
  • Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery
  • Northern Prawn Fishery
  • Small Pelagic Fishery
  • Southern Squid Jig Fishery

Total allowable catches or total allowable effort for quota species are set at sustainable levels.

Total allowable catches for stocks below limit reference points are set in accordance with stock rebuilding strategies with no targeted fishing.

NOTE: Internationally managed fish stocks are managed according to international agreements consistent with the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines and may not have targets based on maximum economic yield.

Commission assessments and targeted research to underpin science based management decisions.

AFMA establishes research priorities for Commonwealth fisheries and arranges for research to be undertaken to address these priorities each year. The majority of research is undertaken by AFMA including undertaking and improving fishery assessments. This includes:

  • Biological and economic assessments of key commercial stocks
  • Risk assessments for bycatch species and fishery impacts on the ecosystem
  • Identifying strategies to ensure the sustainable use of fishery resources and address information gaps to ensure the effective management of these fisheries.

The following key fisheries assessments were completed in 2014–15:

Small Pelagic Fishery

Annual fishery assessments for all Small Pelagic Fishery species involving a review and analysis of:

  • existing literature
  • catch and effort data
  • age monitoring programs for each species, including otolith analysis
  • existing biomass and management strategy evaluations.

These were used to support determination of recommended biological catches and total allowable catch for the season for the Small Pelagic Fishery.

Commission assessments and targeted research to underpin science based management decisions.

A Fisheries Research and Development Corporation funded study was undertaken in early 2015 by the South Australian Research and Development Institute and the University of Tasmania applying the daily egg production method to jack mackerel successfully collecting large numbers of samples of eggs and adults concurrently from the key spawning area off eastern Australia during what has been previously identified as the main spawning period.

The study established an effective method for sampling adult jack mackerel and provides the first estimates for this species of the adult reproductive parameters required for application of the daily egg production method. The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation funded study was conducted to acquire the knowledge needed to support ongoing ecologically sustainable management of these species and was used to set the sustainable catch limits for the season.

Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery

Results from the scallop bed surveys were used to estimate biomass and density in particular beds in the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery in accordance with the harvest strategy to determine total allowable commercial scallop catch for the season.

Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery

Stock assessments for a suite of key species in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery were undertaken to inform the calculation of recommended biological catch and total allowable catch including:

  • mirror dory
  • orange roughy
  • redfish
  • john dory
  • elephant fish
  • sawshark.

Northern Prawn Fishery

Data obtained from the Northern Prawn Fishery pre-season recruitment and spawning surveys informed the stock assessment and computation of maximum economic yield for the fishery and total allowable effort for the season for tiger and endeavour prawn species.

Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery

Tagging data collected from the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery was incorporated into the fishery stock assessment and total allowable catch limits were considered by the Sub Antarctic Resource Assessment Group and the Sub-Antarctic Fisheries Management Advisory Committee.

Heard Island and MacDonald Islands Fishery

Data collected through the fishery's independent random stratified trawl survey as well as tagging data was incorporated into the stock assessments for the Heard Island and MacDonald Islands Fishery with total allowable catch limits for the key species, Patagonian toothfish, recommended by the Sub Antarctic Fisheries Resource Assessment Group.

Strategy 1.3: Implement measures to recover remaining overfished stocks

AFMA sets total allowable catch or total allowable effort limits to ensure Commonwealth fisheries are sustainable.

We often regulate the catch through the use of individual transferable quotas, which is a long-standing Australian Government policy. Individual transferable quotas are regarded by government and AFMA as the preferred means of achieving efficient and sustainable fisheries that maximise net economic returns from Commonwealth fisheries to the Australian community.

We continued to commission stock assessments for key commercial stocks to evaluate their status against agreed limit and target reference points. Rebuilding strategies were developed and implemented to address overfishing and to rebuild stocks in cases where they were assessed as below agreed limit reference points.

Orange roughy

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Set total allowable catch or total allowable effort at levels that will achieve limit and target reference points within agreed time frames.

In 2014–15 AFMA continued to set total allowable catches or effort levels in accordance with relevant fishery specific harvest strategies and or rebuilding strategies. These measures are designed to achieve limit and target reference points to rebuild fisheries to sustainable levels where fisheries are overfished.

Implement stock rebuilding strategies for species assessed as being below agreed limit reference points.

Rebuilding strategies are currently in place or being implemented for the following species:

  • orange roughy
  • eastern gemfish
  • school shark
  • blue warehou.

In March 2015 eastern orange roughy stocks were assessed to have been rebuilt to a healthy level where they can be commercially fished again.

Following the assessment, the AFMA Commission set a total allowable catch of 500 tonnes for the eastern stock of orange roughy for the 2015–16 season allowing the stock to continue to rebuild.

Fishing in the eastern orange roughy zone is subject to close monitoring, including on—board AFMA observers, to minimise the risk of discards.

The 2013 Gulper Shark Management Strategy continues to support the rebuilding of Harrisson's and southern dogfishes.

A rebuilding strategy is being developed for redfish due to the species being formally assessed as below the limit reference point for the first time in October 2014.

An interim rebuilding strategy for southern bluefin tuna aimed at increasing the spawning biomass to 20 per cent of its original level by 2035 has been implemented by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, in which Australia is a member.

FEATURE STORY

orange-roughy-feat-story

Orange roughy fishing in the Commonwealth South East Trawl Fishery

The once poster child for unsustainable fishing in Australia, orange roughy, has returned to the spotlight, this time as an example of how the partnership between AFMA, the fishing industry and scientists enables a fish stock to rebuild to a point where it can again be harvested sustainably.

There were many lessons learnt during and following the overfishing of orange roughy stocks in the late 1980s and early 1990s. AFMA rapidly lowered total allowable catches during the 1990s and then closed waters deeper than 700 metres to trawling and banned commercial fishing for orange roughy (with the exception of an area known as the Cascade Plateau where the stock was assessed as healthy). Since the implementation of these closures the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association has partnered with the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to monitor stock recovery.

Over the past 10 years, regular surveys on orange roughy fishing grounds have been undertaken using towed multi—frequency acoustic systems. In 2014 the survey results, along with biological data, were used in an assessment that showed that the eastern stock had rebuilt to levels that would support the re—opening of targeted fishing under the fishery's harvest strategy.

In March 2015, AFMA announced the re—opening of commercial fishing on the eastern orange roughy stock subject to management measures that enable the stock to continue to rebuild. These arrangements include:

  • real time monitoring of fishing on aggregations using 100 per cent observer coverage
  • a minimum quota holding to enter and remain in the areas
  • accounting for all orange roughy taken in the management areas (including discards)
  • a trigger to stop fishing in the eastern aggregations while quota is still available to cover catches, coupled with a 100 per cent undercatch provision to minimise the incentive to fish to the limit of quota holdings (and potentially catch in excess of quota holdings).

The re—opening of the orange roughy fishery is a good example of how effective collaboration between industry members, researchers and management is essential to support quality monitoring, assessment and management programs. Further details can be found in the 2015 Orange Roughy Stock Rebuilding Strategy available on AFMA's website.

Goal 2: Improve the net economic returns of Commonwealth fisheries

Strategy 2.1: Facilitate the development of underutilised fisheries resources

Under the Fisheries Management Act 1991 AFMA has an objective of achieving optimum utilisation of living resources within the Australian Fishing Zone.

We are responsible for considering access to underutilised living resources in response to enquiries to do so. We assess and where appropriate approve applications for the use of specific fishing gear or allow fishing to take place in new areas. This approach includes gathering sufficient information to enable us to assess whether a sustainable fishery can be developed.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Facilitate access to underutilised fisheries resources.

AFMA and the South East Management Advisory Committee approved an application to amend gear configuration on trap fishing concessions to allow targeting of hagfish. Hagfish can be taken in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery but have not been targeted before. The assessment group provided recommendations for data collection to support close monitoring and assessment.

AFMA issued a permit for an Australian vessel to fish for Patagonian toothfish in the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Exploratory Fisheries in the Ross Sea Region during the 2014–15 fishing season. The data collected will form part of a detailed stock assessment.

Strategy 2.2: Support the Department of Agriculture and fishery stakeholders in the revision of the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines

The Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines provide a framework to maintain key commercial fishery stocks at ecologically sustainable levels and maximise net economic returns to the Australian community.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Implement revised harvest strategy policy when available.

Continues to assist

AFMA has continued to work with the Department of Agriculture and other government agencies in developing the Australian Government Fisheries Policy, a revised Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy and a new Bycatch Policy. Relevant elements of the new policies and associated guidelines will be implemented by AFMA once they are finalised.

Strategy 2.3: Develop and implement approaches to further reduce the amount of discarded fish

To support our objectives of sustainable fisheries and cost effective and efficient fisheries management, we are committed to bycatch reduction, improved measures for protected species and managing any effects of fishing on the marine environment.

In most of AFMA's quota managed fisheries the level of discards of commercial species is estimated through our independent observer program and these estimates are factored into the setting of total allowable catch levels. The use of electronic monitoring (recently introduced in several fisheries) will provide opportunities for more accurately estimating discards.

Several fisheries are trialling different discard and bycatch education processes. The South East Trawl Fishery will trial the use of individual report cards for discards to make individual owners and fishers more aware of their discarding practices. The Great Australian Bight Trawl Fishery is examining the feasibility of introducing a zero discard policy, and is seeking funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to carry out initial studies. The Northern Prawn Fishery has also recently announced a plan to reduce its bycatch by 30 per cent over the next few years.

Our dedicated Bycatch and Discards team works on focused and cost effective ways to help the fishing industry to minimise their discards and reduce interactions with protected species. This includes working with industry on education programs to raise awareness and encourage operational practices to minimise discards.

We are also reviewing options for requiring individual accountability for quota species discards in fisheries where this is feasible and cost effective. Where implemented this would mean that discarded quota species will be taken off the individual fishers quota holdings (instead of being accounted at the fishery level before setting the total allowable catch). This will be an incentive for fishers to reduce discarding of quota species. We are also reviewing over catch and under catch arrangements and, in 2015–16, will undertake a cost benefit analysis of proposals to account for all catch of quota species. Both proposals, if proven feasible and implemented, should assist in minimising discards.

These proposals will be finalised after the Australian Government completes its reviews of the current Harvest Strategy and Bycatch Polices, which may also address discards of commercial species.

Intended actions
in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Support research and initiatives to reduce the amount of discarded fish.

Continues to support

AFMA is developing a discard policy with the goal of reducing the amount of discards.

FEATURE STORY

afma-observer-program-feat-story

AFMA Observer Program

This year proved to be an extremely busy year for AFMA's Observer Program, particularly with a substantial increase in fishing operations in the Southern Ocean.

The increased total allowable catch set for Patagonian toothfish in the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery resulted in an increased total allowable catch and the requirement of 100 per cent observer coverage. The program achieved 777 sea days in the fishery compared to 660 in 2013–14.

The Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery is located in the southern Indian Ocean about 4000 kilometres south—west of Perth and 1000 kilometres north of Antarctica.

The area, which is considered to be one of the most isolated and inhospitable places on the planet, certainly lived up to this reputation recently with an Antarctic cyclone battering the fleet. Observers reported winds of up to 75 knots, waves over 15 metres and temperatures of below 30 degrees Celsius with wind chill.

On these trips, data is collected from every fishing activity. An AFMA observer is deployed to oversee this data collection and report it to us and the Australian Antarctic Division. The data is recorded directly into an on—board computer that is checked and verified before the data is used in stock assessments. The AFMA observer is accompanied by a data collection officer who assists collections of data on a 24 hour rotational basis. The high level of data collection includes:

  • biological information such as length frequencies, gonad staging (to determine breeding maturity) and otoliths (ear bones) for ageing of both target and non—target species
  • tagging of Patagonian toothfish at a rate of two fish per tonne and the opportunistic tagging of skates deemed to have a good chance of survival
  • conducting conversion factor tests to accurately estimate whole weight of the catch when the processed fillets are weighed and verified
  • conducting wildlife observations and monitor for interactions
  • reporting on the sighting of any suspected illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing operations
  • reporting on the compliance of boats in relation to marine pollution
  • reporting on the compliance with conservation measures.

The duration of voyages is typically 70 to 85 days although, in some circumstances, they can extend to 140 days. The duration of trips combined with the extreme conditions and isolation dictate the employment of observers who are industrious and self—motivated.

Goal 3: Prevent unacceptable impacts of Commonwealth fisheries on marine ecosystems and organisms

Strategy 3.1: Regularly review fishery risks and management measures under AFMA's Ecological Risk Management Framework

AFMA has adopted ecosystem based fisheries management which considers the impacts of fishing on the marine environment. Our fishery—based ecological risk assessments provide a list of species, habitats and ecological communities that are at various levels of risk from the effects of fishing.

Our ecological risk management framework requires that ecological risk management reports for each fishery outline how we will address the impacts that fishing activities have on commercial species, bycatch and protected species. These reports respond to risks identified through the ecological risk assessment process (refer to Appendix 6 for further information).

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Further development of Ecological Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework to include habitats.

A review of the effectiveness of AFMA's current ecological risk management framework in identifying and responding to any ecological risks to the marine environment caused by fishing is currently underway. Revised Ecological Risk Assessment Guidelines will be applied in 2015–16.

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation funded a project (FRDC 2014/204 which commenced on 1 July 2014 and will be completed by 30 December 2015) to consider the impact of existing fishing area closures on habitats. The results of this project will influence further development of the framework to include habitats.

Progress implementation of ecological risk management responses in key fisheries.

The Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery Ecological Risk Management Strategy 2015 has recently been implemented after consultation with stakeholders. The aim of the ecological risk management strategy is to implement management arrangements to minimise fishing impact on non—target species and habitats, with a particular focus on high risk species and habitats assessed through AFMA's ecological risk assessment process. All major AFMA fisheries have undergone previous ecological risk assessments and continue to implement existing ecological risk management strategies. These fisheries will be reassessed in line with the framework for reviewing, auditing and approving environmental decisions once it is completed.

Consider further application of catch thresholds (or their proxy) for interactions with threatened, endangered and protected species.

AFMA contributed to the development of the revised Seabird Threat Abatement Plan prepared by the Australian Antarctic Division of the Department of the Environment. The plan was finalised in August 2014 and the first full season managed under the new plan began in September 2014. An assessment of its effectiveness is planned after the first year of operation which finishes on 31 August 2015.

Under the Small Pelagic Fishery (Closures) Direction No. 1 2015, zone 6 off southern New South Wales and Victoria as detailed in the Direction, has been closed to mid—water trawling methods for a period of six months from 17 June 2015. This is a result of a common dolphin mortality recorded in zone 6 on 17 June 2015. The closure will be in force until midnight on 16 December 2015.

To ensure dolphin bycatch for gillnet fishing in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery is minimised, on 8 September 2014 AFMA implemented a Dolphin Strategy for gillnet fishing in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The strategy specifies performance standards that fishers must adhere to when fishing with gillnets in higher risk areas. In the first six month review period one operator exceeded the maximum bycatch rate of one dolphin mortality per 50 gear sets. This vessel was excluded from fishing the Coorong Dolphin Zone for six months from 1 March 2015 to 31 August 2015. The other four fishers recorded much lower bycatches than in previous years.

Continue to partner with industry/service providers to educate fishing concession holders about responsible fishing practices and raise awareness of reporting and compliance obligations.

AFMA seconded a liaison officer to the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association for an initial period of six months. The officer is working with the industry association in developing online education material for skippers and crew in the otter board trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. This will educate skippers and crew on aspects of bycatch mitigation, species identification, handling practices and species specific management arrangements. It also provides them with a formal Certificate III qualification from Technical and Further Education institutions.

FEATURE STORY

South-East-Trawler

AFMA – SETFIA Liaison Officer

AFMA has enjoyed a long and productive working relationship with the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association. The association represents the interests of over 35 fishers working in the South East Trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, providing fresh local seafood for the people of Melbourne and Sydney.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association is running a number of industry led projects aimed at reducing the impacts of the fishery on the marine environment. To aid the association in these projects, we have for the first time appointed one of our fisheries management officers, Andrew Trappett, as a liaison officer at the Association's office in the fishing port of Lakes Entrance, Victoria. Lakes Entrance is one of the busiest ports for Commonwealth commercial fishing boats in Australia.

Andrew has been working closely with industry members and using this experience to help design and implement two innovative online learning programs for trawl fishers on fisheries management and marine parks. Andrew has also been helping to conduct at—sea trials of new methods to further reduce seabird bycatch on trawlers.

Commonwealth fishers in Lakes Entrance have been really appreciative of AFMA maintaining an ongoing presence in the port. While posted to Lakes Entrance, Andrew will conduct media interviews on local radio to help the local community better understand fishery management issues and the good work we and the Association are carrying out together.

Goal 3: Prevent unacceptable impacts of Commonwealth fisheries on marine ecosystems and organisms

Strategy 3.2: Continue to manage fisheries in line with the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch (Bycatch Policy)

AFMA pursues ecological sustainability by applying the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch. This seeks to reduce or minimise interactions with non—target species. Direct and indirect impacts on marine systems are taken into account and managed through mechanisms that reduce bycatch, improve mitigation measures for protected species and minimise impacts of fishing on the marine environment. In line with this policy, AFMA is continuing to minimise seabird interaction in demersal trawl fisheries through the successful application and refinement of seabird management plans. In conjunction with this, vessel management plans have also been applied to manage and minimise marine mammal interactions in the Southern Shark Gillnet Fishery.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Implement a new Bycatch Policy within available resources and priorities.

Continues to support

AFMA has continued to support the Department of Agriculture in the revision of the Bycatch Policy.

AFMA has provided feedback on technical aspects and the practicality of implementing the policy in to existing harvest strategies.

Work will continue with the department in 2015–16 in developing the new policy and guidelines.

Goal 4: Implement management arrangements and frameworks that are both cost effective and encourage compliance

Strategy 4.1: Make fisheries management arrangements more uniform, understandable and enforceable with appropriate penalties

Through our red tape initiatives, AFMA has reviewed and standardised management arrangements across the fisheries to reduce the levels of complexity and make regulations easier for fishers to understand and comply with fishery management rules. A greater understanding of the rules can lead to improvement voluntary compliance, supports sustainable fishing activities and improves efficiencies in both administration and operational programs.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Continue to reform fishery management rules to reduce complexity.

AFMA is undertaking a phased review of the offences and penalty provisions of the Fisheries Management Act 1991 and regulations including powers, incentives, offences, and administrative and criminal penalties.

Phase 1 has been completed. This will result in some minor changes to the regulations coming into effect in late 2015.

Phase 2 is more substantive requiring extensive consultation with government and industry stakeholders. This process has commenced and will continue into 2015–16.

Strategy 4.2: Continue to improve business processes, information flows and financial arrangements to reduce costs

AFMA is committed to reducing costs and administration for our stakeholders. More broadly, we are working towards the Australian Government's agenda to reduce regulatory burden on businesses. AFMA's red tape reduction review and associated consultations with the fishing industry are providing opportunities for improvements to our systems and services to benefit our stakeholders.

A number of initiatives have already been put in place to improve business processes and minimise costs to industry including automating processes through AFMA's licensing portal, GoFish, and changing or removing redundant business processes.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Continue to minimise cost burdens and support a vibrant and efficient industry.

AFMA continued its extensive and comprehensive red tape reduction review. 35 specific initiatives have now been identified focusing on:

  • maintaining protection for the environment through appropriate regulations that ensure access to, and the sustainability of, fisheries
  • streamlining and simplifying of the regulatory framework applying to Commonwealth fisheries
  • understanding and reducing the regulatory burden (costs, time and resource effort) for industry
  • revising the risk management and compliance arrangements to ensure regulations are risk—based and enforcement is proportionate to the level of risk developing a performance management and reporting framework available for independent reporting and auditing.

Further refine continuous improvement program and red tape process reductions in the Cost Recovery Impact Statement review.

AFMA has so far implemented 15 of the 35 specific initiatives identified, with another 20 under consultation with industry or in the process of being implemented. Implementation will continue in 2015–16.

The Cost Recovery Implementation Review proposes a greater proportion of cost be recovered through fee for service which will assist continuous improvement and red tape reductions.

Strategy 4.3: Continue to improve the effectiveness of quota management for Commonwealth Fisheries through the Quota Administration Policy and related instruments

The Australian Government has a long—standing preference for managing Commonwealth fisheries using individual transferable quotas in the form of statutory fishing rights. This quota system allows market forces to create incentives for fishers to become more efficient and also encourage environmental stewardship.

The Quota Administration Policy approved by the then AFMA Commission in January 2013 sets out the principals that AFMA uses when administering quota arrangements.

Part of this Policy was to change the within season quota reconciliation to require fishers to reconcile their catches in excess of their quota holding within a maximum 28 days of the catch being landed. An internal review of the changes to the within season reconciliation found that there has been a 25 per cent reduction in the number of fishers subject to compliance action by AFMA.

The Quota Administration Policy also requires AFMA to undertake a review of under—catch and over—catch provisions 2015 after the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy review and changes to within season quota reconciliation arrangements have taken effect.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Continue to implement a revised quota administration policy for all quota managed fisheries.

AFMA has continued to implement the Quota Administration Policy, commenced the review of undercatch and overcatch provisions and is assessing the risks associated with covering the catch of quota species with quota in overlapping fisheries.

Consider fishery amalgamations linked to fisheries management plans.

AFMA continued to explore the options and feasibility of reducing the number of management plans.

Strategy 4.4: Apply individual accountability in appropriate fisheries

Individual responsibility and accountability encourages innovation by the industry to minimise environmental impacts, rewards good fishers with reduced compliance burdens and a reduction in general restrictions due to a small number of non—compliant fishers.

Benefits in our domestic fisheries include enabling AFMA and industry to undertake the most effective and efficient management of Commonwealth fisheries to ensure our fisheries provide sustainable Australian seafood with acceptable environmental impact.

Electronic monitoring (using cameras and other on—board electronic sensors) is a cost effective method to record all fishing activity on a boat. Video footage and sensor data is analysed regularly to verify catch, discards and protected species interactions reported in logbooks. It increases accuracy and confidence in fisheries data and promotes stronger compliance by all fishers. This enables AFMA to apply more efficient management measures that focus on those fishers who are not yet meeting management standards.

To support stronger individual accountability and verification of logbook data, we have installed electronic monitoring on 74 boats in the Gillnet, Hook and Trap, and the Eastern and Western Tuna and Billfish fisheries.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Continue to trial and expand the individual accountability approach in the Gillnet, Hook and Trap Fishery in accordance with priority areas established through risk assessments.

Boats fishing with automatic longline are now individually accountable for staying below bycatch rates specified in the Seabird Threat Abatement Plan. This is proving successful with seabird bycatch in 2014–15 lower than previous years and within the performance standards included in the plan.

To ensure dolphin bycatch for gillnet fishing in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery is minimised, on 8 September 2014 AFMA implemented a Dolphin Strategy for gillnet fishing in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The strategy specifies performance standards that fishers must adhere to when fishing with gillnets in higher risk areas. In the first six month review period one operator exceeded the maximum bycatch rate of one dolphin mortality per 50 gear sets. This vessel was excluded from fishing the Coorong Dolphin Zone for six months from 1 March 2015 to 31 August 2015. The other four fishers recorded much lower rates of dolphin interactions.

FEATURE STORY

shy

Responsible fishing reduces seabird interactions on longlines

Stronger accountability and line weighting have helped ensure that seabird interactions were close to zero in the automatic longline sector of the Gillnet, Hook and Trap Fishery during the 2014–15 summer. This is a positive result for industry with seabird interactions within performance triggers specified in the Threat Abatement Plan for seabirds.  

Under the Threat Abatement Plan, observed seabird bycatch in the auto—longline hook fishing sector needs to be less than 0.01 birds per 1000 hooks in each season. This trigger was exceeded by auto—longline fishers in previous years and new management measures were implemented along with some innovative changes by fishers. The management changes included stronger accountability for individual boats and a performance standard for fishers to sink their gear faster than 0.3ms getting the hooks quickly out of reach of seabirds.

Increased individual accountability has been achieved through installing electronic monitoring systems on each boat. Video and sensors data is regularly reviewed by AFMA every month to ensure that all seabird interactions have been correctly reported by fishers in their logbooks. Failure to report interactions with seabirds results in compliance action.

Electronic monitoring was implemented on all auto—longline boats at the start of the Summer Threat Abatement Plan season on 1 September 2014 and since then the level of independent monitoring in this sector has increased from around 10 per cent to nearly 100 per cent. Individual fishers are now accountable for their bycatch and have the strongest incentive to invest in mitigation strategies that work for their fishing operation.

This approach is proving successful with a significant reduction in the seabird interaction rate. During summer 2013–14 the observed seabird interaction rate was 0.078 seabirds per 1000 hooks with 15 per cent of hooks independently monitored. In 2014–15 independent monitoring increased to 95 per cent of all hooks set and the seabird interaction rate dropped to 0.005 seabirds per 1000 hooks. With individual accountability measures in place, fishers can continue to fish responsibly and with the confidence that the measures in place to avoid protected species interactions are working.

FEATURE STORY

Southern-Ocean-success

Southern Ocean success

AFMA's cooperation with other Australian Government agencies, and our regional and international colleagues, is realising positive outcomes in disrupting and combatting the global threat of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Southern Ocean.

In 2014–15, five vessels on the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources' Non Contracting Party illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessel list were detained by countries cooperating in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Another illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessel sunk after a long pursuit by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

AFMA had a key role in the fight against these vessels through:

  • working closely with other Australian Government agencies to board and collect information from two of the vessels to assist with investigations into the vessels and people on board
  • notifying fellow member countries to the Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices including combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Secretariat of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessel movements as they have become known
  • making representations, on behalf of Australia, to the countries that register illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessels or have nationals on board; encouraging them to take appropriate action under their domestic laws
  • working with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to establish the beneficial owners of these vessels.

Australia's active participation has helped countries to detain illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessels that enter their port, de—register illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessels that claim their flag, or take action against the people that have links to these vessels.

In June 2015, Spain announced that it was considering imposing significant fines on Spanish companies and citizens allegedly involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Malaysia also prosecuted the masters and crew from two vessels and imposed sanctions involving fines ranging from A$71 500 to A$600 000 and the forfeiture of the proceeds of the sale of catch amounting to A$1.8 million.

These developments demonstrate that international cooperation and the imposition of sanctions are the key to successfully disrupting Southern Ocean illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity which threatens fish stocks and the livelihoods of those that do the right thing. The strong cooperation is achieving results and we commend those countries that continue to play their part in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Through a whole of Australian Government approach and through our regional networks, AFMA will continue to apply pressure in order to prevent operators from benefiting from the activities of these vessels.

Goal 5: Effectively deter illegal fishing in Commonwealth fisheries, the Australian Fishing Zone and adjacent regions

Strategy 5.1: Conduct and enable compliance programs that target identified high risks

To maximise resources and enable compliance and enforcement activities to be targeted to the area of most need, AFMA continued to apply a risk—based National Compliance Program. In 2014–15 our domestic compliance remained focused on the issues of quota evasion and vessel monitoring system compliance.

Quota evasion was the focus of four dedicated Compliance Risk Management teams. These teams focused on misreporting, substitution and concealment, fish receiver fraud and investigated major and systemic incidents of quota evasion. An ‘Evasion Detection Tools' team was established to focus on the development of data matching tools and techniques to identify quota evasion activities.

In addition to the risk—based approach, we maintained a general presence/deterrence program involving in port and at sea targeted inspections in order to discourage non—compliant behaviour by fishers.

We also kept a ‘watching brief' on previously targeted risks such as 28 day quota reconciliation, fishing in closed waters and Threat Abatement Plan compliance.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Undertake compliance activities in accordance with priority areas established through risk assessments.

In 2014–15 our officers:

  • inspected catch landed in Commonwealth fisheries including:

– 75 fish receiver premises inspections

– visits to 28 different ports around Australia on 66 separate occasions to undertake 212 boat inspections covering 3.6 per cent of unloads.

  • finalised 89 domestic investigations resulting in the issuing of 24 warnings, 13 cautions and seven Commonwealth Fisheries Infringement Notices

Outcomes for 2014–15 included:

  • five domestic court matters were finalised resulting in $68 000 in fines and one operator being banned from fishing for 10 years
  • five masters and 17 crew members from foreign fishing vessels were prosecuted with fines ranging from $1000 to $10 000 being imposed by the courts
  • vessel monitoring compliance rates averaged 97.9 per cent for 2014–15 compared to 97.7 per cent in 2013–14
  • The number of apprehensions of illegal foreign fishing vessels declined with six apprehensions in 2014–15, five involving Indonesian vessels and one involving a Papua New Guinean vessel (banana boat in the Torres Strait). This is the lowest number of vessel apprehensions on record comparing with twenty six in 2013–14.

Develop a compliance intelligence capacity that is fully effective.

AFMA has a dedicated intelligence team which is effectively identifying potential offences and areas of high risk through a range of tools including:

  • vessel monitoring systems continually monitor the Commonwealth fleet to identify non—compliance through routine daily assessments and real time monitoring
  • pre—operational intelligence packs which are given to AFMA officers prior to conducting inspections. The officers are also briefed on ‘potential' risk and/or requirements from the National Intelligence Unit
  • risk identification of high risk operators through the use of a Multiple Risk Aggregation Index. The analysis is conducted periodically by the National Intelligence Unit using comprehensive data analysis to rank boats on the basis of offence risk.

Review and develop options to amend the Fisheries Management Act 1991 structure for the domestic compliance regime, including powers, incentives, offences, and administrative and criminal penalties.

AFMA is undertaking a phased review of the offences and penalty provisions of the Fisheries Management Act 1991 and regulations including powers, incentives, offences and administrative and criminal penalties.

Phase 1 has been completed. This will result in some minor changes to the regulations coming into effect in late 2015.

Phase 2 of the project will include a new suite of penalties as well as more closely aligning the Act with the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014.

Strategy 5.2: Conduct capacity building programs with neighbouring countries to enhance fisheries management and governance frameworks and compliance programs

This year has again seen AFMA officers actively working with their regional neighbours to assist in building a strong monitoring, control and surveillance capability aimed at combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Our officers have conducted training programs in—country, worked alongside their fisheries colleagues during operational activities and undertaken officer exchanges to enable foreign fisheries officers to undertake work placements in the AFMA Darwin and Thursday Island offices.

These capacity building programs have simultaneously built knowledge amongst participants about emerging illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices and have provided fisheries officers with the tools to investigate and take action against those unscrupulous fishers and companies engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing not only hurts our regional neighbours through the loss of income for their country but leads to the depletion of fisheries resources and makes managing of fisheries in a sustainable manner untenable.

This year's capacity building programs have seen our officers working alongside their colleagues in many remote parts of the Pacific including Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia as well as with some of our northern neighbours including Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Indonesia. Additionally, our officers also conducted a training course in Singapore that was attended by personnel from 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The capacity building activities have been funded through a variety of sources including through aid funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, funding from Singapore and the Australian Department of Defence's Pacific Class Patrol Boat Program as well as AFMA's funding. These programs have built upon the strong regional collaboration between Australia and its Pacific and South East Asian neighbours so that we can work effectively together in our efforts to protect fish stocks and economic livelihoods, now and into the future.

Educational programs also help other countries improve the effectiveness of fisheries policing programs and help them to set up their own rules and regulations as well as reducing the incidence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Australian waters.

AFMA continued to keep incidents of illegal foreign fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone at low levels in 2014–15.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Collaborate with relevant agencies on deterring illegal, unreported and unregulated activity and developing fisheries management arrangements and capacity building.

AFMA conducted a range of capacity building programs in both South East Asia and the Pacific. Training programs and work placements for foreign fisheries officers were conducted with departments from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and Vanuatu.

Capacity building activities also occurred during operational deployments on foreign patrol vessels from regions including Tonga, the Cook Islands, Palau, the Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean as well as Indonesia in the Arafura and Timor Seas.

Further training was provided to Pacific Island Countries' officers who are assigned to Pacific Class Patrol Boats at the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania.

At the request of Singapore and Malaysia, AFMA provided training in Port State Measures to officers from throughout South East Asia.

Additionally, at the request of the Federated States of Micronesia Department of Justice AFMA officers supported investigations of a number of unlicensed Vietnamese fishing vessels apprehended in Federated States of Micronesia waters.

Table 04 : Training provided to regional officers in 2014–2015

Country

Capacity building courses delivered

Fisheries surveillance operations

Port State and Monitoring Control Surveillance

Indonesia

2

1

Papua New Guinea

2

Kiribati

3

Vanuatu

1

Tonga

1

Cook Islands

1

Palau

1

Solomon Islands

1

Federated States of Micronesia

1

Singapore

1

Malaysia

1

Strategy 5.3: Promote and advocate deterrence, prevention and cooperation at regional fisheries forums to deter illegal fishing

AFMA participates at regional fisheries management organisation meetings to ensure that measures adopted by regional fisheries bodies promote sustainable fishing practices and effective monitoring, control and surveillance, but do not create, burden on Australia's commercial fishing industry or government resources.

We also work closely with member countries of the Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices including combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing to promote regional cooperation in port state measures to deter illegal fishing. This cooperation has been extremely effective in 2014–15.

In particular Malaysia and Thailand have taken enforcement action against a number of illegal foreign fishing vessels identified by Australia as having contravened Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources conservation measures.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Engage at international meetings to ensure agreed outcomes can be implemented by Australia.

In 2014–15 AFMA participated in the annual meetings of five international fisheries management organisations that Australia is party to. AFMA together with the Department of Agriculture ensured the adoption of effective measures by these bodies to better manage fisheries in the region, while ensuring no unnecessary burden was placed on the Australian industry or the Australian Government.

AFMA engaged both regionally and bilaterally to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing including through participation in:

  • the Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices including Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in the South East Asia region the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Sub—Regional (Arafura and Timor Seas) Group
  • the Australian—Indonesian Fisheries Surveillance Forum
  • bilateral forums with New Zealand.

FEATURE STORY

Red tape reduction initiatives

Red tape reduction initiatives

During the year Australia's commercial fishing industry benefitted from a raft of red tape reduction measures to help it pursue a competitive and sustainable future.

By June 2015 AFMA had implemented 15 red tape reducing initiatives, with another 20 initiatives under consultation with stakeholders or in the process of being implemented. This included initiatives to:

  • implement electronic delivery of correspondence
  • provide access to concession conditions online
  • open the Cascade Plateau to long line fishing
  • streamline carrier boat conditions in the Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery.

Our regulatory reduction work is having a positive impact on the fishing industry. Through industry and AFMA working together, streamlined and cost effective solutions have been developed to ensure that the fisheries sector is supported and adequately regulated without being unnecessarily constrained. Further information on how we are reducing red tape can be found on our website. 

Goal 6: Streamline regulations and approvals and reduce costs of compliance and fisheries management

Strategy 6.1: Continue to adapt business processes and technologies that match the core needs of AFMA and its stakeholders

AFMA continues to encourage fishers to utilise technologies such as AFMA's licensing portal, GoFish, to improve business processes and reduce costs to industry. There has been significant progress in the development of GoFish, which has assisted in keeping costs down for licensing transactions. In 2014–15, the number of transactions in GoFish was more than double that in 2013–14.

We have also continued to implement the electronic monitoring program and encourage fishers to move away from paper logs to an electronic reporting regime. This has been achieved by better costing the manual processing of paper logs compared to electronic logs.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Investigate further options to improve the cost effective fisheries management arrangements in Torres Strait fisheries on behalf of the Protected Zone Joint Authority, including development of management plans.

Progress has been made to further centralise management responsibilities across the Protected Zone Joint Authority agencies consistent with the Protected Zone Joint Authority Administrative Review. AFMA has now taken on responsibility for licensing fishers in the region and the administration of the representation of Traditional Inhabitant fishers on all formal consultative forums.

AFMA is developing a plan of management for the Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery that will implement individual transferable quota. This aims to provide capacity for trading between the traditional and non—traditional sectors and provide a source of revenue for the traditional sector to enable it to increase its share of the resource over time.

Encourage key fishing industry associations to increase the uptake of electronic—logs and GoFish.

Following preparatory work in 2014–15 electronic logs are scheduled to be installed on all south east trawl boats with no upfront costs to industry following a commercial partnership formed between the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association, Coles and World Wildlife Fund.

AFMA has contracted the Commonwealth Fisheries Association to, among other things, encourage the uptake of GoFish and electronic—logs through promotion and engagement.

Continue to improve cost effectiveness of independent monitoring and data collection programs.

AFMA has commenced market testing the independent observer program. The expression of interest phase closed at the end of February 2015 and evaluations have been completed. AFMA is currently considering whether to maintain the existing in house program or proceed with a request for tender.

Increased use of electronic monitoring equipment is expected to reduce costs in particular fisheries as it is a most cost effective alternative to observer coverage.

Strategy 6.2: Further reduce regulatory burden and cost to industry through reduction of red tape and unnecessary regulatory requirements, including establishment investment in electronic monitoring and data transfer technologies, and upgrading of fishery—management specific software

AFMA continues to explore mechanisms to reduce regulatory burden and cost to industry through its red tape reduction program in line with the Australian Governments agenda to reduce regulatory burden to businesses.

A number of initiatives have already been implemented which are seeing cost savings for industry through reduced fees and simplified licensing processes.

We have continued the roll out of electronic monitoring with services now implemented in the Gillnet, Hook and Trap, and the Eastern and Western Tuna and Billfish fisheries.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Consider regulatory reduction options emerging from stakeholder engagement and relevant government reviews.

AFMA consulted with the Commonwealth Fisheries Association to seek proposals for regulatory reduction initiatives that affect industry and AFMA is considering the comments and suggestions.

Continue changes to process and transactions to reduce red tape to industry.

Measures have been implemented to make licensing and quota administration more efficient including simplified boat nominations, the ability to register multi—season leases, the online renewal of permits, removal of fees for scientific permits and the electronic delivery of correspondence, conditions and notices. These initiatives simplify stakeholders interactions with AFMA and reduce the time required to comply with regulations.

Commence roll out of electronic monitoring to the Gillnet, Hook and Trap, the Eastern Tuna and Billfish and the Western Tuna and Billfish fisheries.

The project to roll out electronic monitoring across the Gillnet, Hook and Trap, the Eastern Tuna and Billfish and the Western Tuna and Billfish fisheries. is almost complete, with completion scheduled for late August 2015.

Continue to implement the Fee for Service program.

AFMA has collected funds as prescribed in the Fee for Service program. Logbook fees are collected under the fee for service program and a review of logbook fees was concluded in May 2015. The review recommended removing the overhead cost associated with entering paper logs from the levy base and incorporating it into the paper log book fee for service charge.

Revise fisheries legislation against provisions of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and Productivity Commission Regulator Audit Framework.

AFMA's Regulator Performance Framework which sets out how AFMA will measure and report on its regulatory performance was finalised in 2014–15. Indicators will now be applied to more effectively measure AFMA performance under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Strategy 6.3: Explore opportunities to streamline fisheries assessments under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

AFMA has contributed to discussions with the Department of the Environment regarding possible changes to how fisheries assessments are conducted. These include:

  • a risk—based approach allowing up to 10 year accreditation of fisheries under Part 13 and 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  • Marine Stewardship Council equivalent certification for the Act, with the Western Australian Rock Lobster Fishery being used as a case study.

AFMA is of the view that these suggested changes will assist in streamlining environmental assessments for Commonwealth fisheries to reduce duplication of functions and costs in line with the Australian Government's red tape agenda.

We have commenced reviewing its ecological risk assessment and ecological risk management practices and recommendations will be implemented during 2015–16.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Contribute to the implementation of the Australian Government's response to the review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Continues to support this process

AFMA is participating in the process to streamline accreditation Commonwealth fisheries under the Act. This includes reviewing AFMA's processes in relation to ecological risk assessment and ecological risk management.

The development of accreditation standards was identified as a Commonwealth Fisheries Research Advisory Body research priority for 2015–16 and a project was provisionally approved by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Board for funding in 2015–16 .The project, ‘Towards consistent standards for Australian fisheries management', aims to deliver standards that can be applied across jurisdictions enhancing efficiency in administration and simplicity for fishers.

fish-dish

Goal 7: Facilitate co—management in Commonwealth fisheries

Strategy: For fisheries under the Fisheries Management Act 1991, apply lessons from co—management trials and assist the development of new arrangements

Co—management has a positive effect in management outcomes in these fisheries, including increasing stewardship over fisheries resources and the marine environment. The longer term goal is to see industry and government working together in the most cost—effective way to manage commercial fisheries. For example, in February 2015 AFMA and the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides industry with more flexibility to manage incidental catches of snapper off Victoria, while still meeting AFMA requirements. The arrangement is administered by the Association and allows fishers to land incidental catches of snapper in excess of the 200 kilogram trip limit, rather than discard them. Prior to landing, the Association runs through a set of criteria with the fisher and if satisfied that the catch is truly incidental, will grant them an authority to land the catch.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Utilise outcomes from the co—management trials to maintain, and expand where appropriate, co—management arrangements with industry groups.

Co—management arrangements were continued in the Northern Prawn Fishery and Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector in 2014–15.

Supported by AFMA, the Northern Prawn Fishery Industry Pty Ltd is developing a strategy to reduce bycatch in the fishery by 30 per cent.

AFMA is also collaborating with the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association and the Great Australian Bight Industry Association to develop more effective methods to protect seabirds from coming into contact with fishing gear.

FEATURE STORY

Recreational-Fishing

AFMA and the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation Liaison Officer

AFMA and the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) have embarked on a partnership to build the communication, understanding and relationships between the two organisations with ARFF hosting an AFMA Liaison Officer for the year. The aim of the role was to make sure that the views and concerns of recreational fishers are considered by AFMA in its management of Commonwealth fisheries.

Highlights from the year include:

  • holding the ARFF Policy Summit and AFMA Recreational Fishing Forums back to back in both November 2014 and April 2015 with attendance by Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, and AFMA's Commissioners
  • an increased understanding in AFMA of the values recreational fishers have for Commonwealth managed species and an increased understanding of Commonwealth fisheries management among recreational fishing organisations
  • AFMA sponsorship and support of the National Recreational Fishing Conference 2015
  • a commitment by both organisations to continue the liaison officer position into 2015–16.

We recognise the importance in consulting and collaborating with our stakeholders. The position has helped to build the relationships, capacity and understanding of both organisations and we hope this endeavour continues into the future.

Goal 8: Transparent and effective engagement with the community and other stakeholders

Strategy 8.1: Improve communications in a style usable by stakeholders through appropriate media channels

AFMA is committed to managing Commonwealth fisheries resources for the benefit of the community as a whole. This means co—operation and consultation with industry, government agencies and others with an interest in the sustainable management of the Commonwealth's fisheries resources is vital.

Intended actions
in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Explore stakeholder and broader community engagement through digital and social media.

In January 2015 AFMA launched a new website that increased capacity to engage with stakeholders. In May 2015, AFMA started trialling the use of SMS to remind concession holders about their compliance requirements. Use of social media as a tool for further engagement with stakeholders will be pursued in 2015–16.

Continue formal engagement with recreational fishing industry and environmental non—government organisations.

In 2014–15 various stakeholder forums were held with both recreational fishing and environmental non—government organisations. Two specific forums were held about the management of the Small Pelagic Fishery in October 2014 and March 2015.

Strategy 8.2: Ensure the effective operation of management advisory committees and resource assessment groups, as the principal sources of advice to the AFMA Commission

Management advisory committees and resource assessment groups provide crucial advice and input to AFMA on the management of Commonwealth fisheries. Members of these committees and groups include AFMA fishery managers, commercial fishers, scientists and researchers, state and territory governments, conservation groups and recreational fishers.

Both forums provide significant input to management and science decision making processes and the provision of advice to the AFMA Commission. Further information on management advisory committees can be found on page 205 to 207.

To ensure effective operation of the management advisory committees and resource assessment groups, membership is regularly renewed. In 2015–16 AFMA will develop an on—line committee management system which will streamline recruitment processes and the general administration of these bodies.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Appoint appropriate people to committees and provide regular training to committee members.

Four management advisory committee and two resource assessment group recruitment process were successfully completed in 2014–15.

AFMA held a two day resource assessment group workshop, focusing on membership roles and responsibilities, meeting governance and reporting of meeting outcomes. Workshop participants were also provided with a presentation on introduction to stock assessment science by Dr. Ian Knuckey.

Strategy 8.3: Increase public accessibility and availability of scientific and other fishery management information

AFMA has undertaken or is currently engaged in a number of processes that will increase transparency and effective engagement with stakeholders.

These processes include development of a revised public website with increased and timely access to management advisory committee and resource assessment group information and records. Another relates to the revision of our Ecological Risk Management Framework and the development of a plain English guide in association with that framework. This describes our scientific risk assessment and risk management processes.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Establish scientific review processes for all AFMA commissioned research.

AFMA is currently part of a collaborative project to develop and implement a science quality assurance standard for Australian fisheries.

Develop and implement research standards to ensure clear flow of information and increase accessibility to data.

Continues to support

The science standard is due to be completed at the end of 2015. AFMA will consider implementation in 2016.

Strategy 8.4: Continue to work with the Department of Agriculture in servicing regional fisheries management organisations and other international fishery bodies

To ensure that Australia's interests are upheld in international fisheries forums it is important that AFMA maintains a strong relationship with the Department of Agriculture.

We provide technical advice on the implementation of any new or amended conservation and management measures that are agreed by regional fisheries bodies. We also amend fishing concession conditions to reflect new measures that are agreed by international fisheries bodies.

Intended actions in 2014–15

Achieved

Results

Support key regional and other international fishery bodies prioritised by their impact on domestic fisheries.

AFMA provided advice and supported the Department of Agriculture in leading key proposals at annual meetings of numerous international fisheries bodies in 2014–15. This has led, for example, to an agreement to develop a harvest strategy for key tuna species in the Western and Central Pacific.

AFMA updated concession conditions in 2014–15 and amended the Fisheries Management (International Agreements) Regulations 2009 to ensure Australia meets its obligations under new or amended measures adopted by regional fisheries bodies.

group of nets

1 Fisheries co-management is an arrangement in which responsibilities and obligations for sustainable fisheries management are negotiated, shared and potentially delegated between government, fishers and other stakeholders where appropriate.

2 Total allowable effort is used in fisheries where it is not cost effective or would be otherwise inappropriate for effective management to have total allowable catches