Part 2 - Summary

part 2 summary

Annual performance statement

I, James Findlay, as the accountable authority of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), present the 2016–17 annual performance statements of AFMA, as required under paragraph 39(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and under paragraph 87 of the Fisheries Administration Act 1991. In my opinion, these annual performance statements are based on properly maintained records, accurately reflect the performance of the entity, and comply with subsection 39(2) of the PGPA Act.

Dr-James-Findlay_sig

Dr James Findlay GAICD

Chief Executive Officer and Accountable Authority of AFMA

About afma’s performance framework

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) operates within the Australian Government’s outcome and performance frameworks. The outcome for each agency articulates the government’s objectives for the agency and provides a basis for budgeting and reporting the use of funds appropriated by government. The agency’s purpose, as stated in its corporate plan sets out why it exists, and identifies the strategic objectives that it intends to pursue.

Outcome and program

AFMA’s outcome is:

‘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.’

AFMA’s objective is to deliver sustainable and efficiently managed fisheries and provide a net economic return to the Australian community. In the Portfolio Budget Statements for 2016–17, AFMA is responsible for a single government program: Program 1.1 Australian Fisheries Management Authority. The performance of this program is measured by a number of deliverables and key performance indicators as outlined in the 2016–19 Corporate Plan. Our performance against these targets, as well as other actions, provides an indication of its success in fulfilling its purpose, and in achieving its outcome for the benefit of the Australian community. These results are provided in AFMA’s annual performance statement on page 25.

The Annual Performance Statement is structured to highlight the major elements of AFMA’s purposes to:

  1. Ensure the ecological sustainability of Commonwealth fisheries for the benefit of present and future generations of Australians
  2. Improve the net economic returns from Commonwealth fisheries to the Australian community including:
    • promoting compliance with Australian fishing laws and relevant international fishing obligations and standards using measures that are proportionate to the risk involved
  3. Deliver effective, cost efficient and transparent management and regulator arrangements.

Performance summary

For Commonwealth fisheries during 2016–17, AFMA continued to deliver sustainable and efficient management and provide a net economic return to Australia, including through effective deterrence of illegal fishing. All AFMA’s performance targets were either fully or partly met (see performance summary and detailed analysis below):

Results snapshot

Target met

Target partly met

Target not met

1. Ecological sustainability

1.1. For economically significant stocks1:

a) Maximise the number of key commercial stocks with harvest strategy targets based on maximum economic yield or the best available proxy

b) Improve the number of stocks in (a) assessed as being on target

c) For those stocks in (a) that are assessed as not on target, improve the numbers that are heading towards their target reference point

1.2. For Commonwealth fisheries’ stocks managed solely by AFMA:

a) Number of fish stocks subject to overfishing.2

1.3. The number of species assessed as remaining at high risk after mitigation

1.4. The number of stocks that are assessed as overfished, and, if effectively managed, may lead to the stock to being sustainable

2. Economic returns

2.1. Percentage of treatment targets met for all priority domestic compliance risks

2.2. Percentage disposal rate of apprehended foreign illegal unreported and unregulated vessels and suspected irregular entry vessels

3. Management

3.1 Red tape reductions

3.2 Cost Recovery charges

Ensure the ecological sustainability of Commonwealth fisheries for the benefit of present and future generations of Australians

Purpose

The Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines (2007) provide an essential management framework for AFMA’s Commonwealth fisheries. Commonwealth fishery harvest strategies for key commercial stocks guide the setting of total allowable catches and other catch limits. By pursuing targets of maximum economic yield (or proxy), where available, fishing will be more sustainable in the long term (as it requires the same or higher fish stock levels than maximum sustainable yield) and there will be greater returns to the harvesting sector and the Australian community.

At the same time, AFMA pursues the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch to minimise fishing-related impacts on bycatch species in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development and with regard to the structure, productivity, function and biological diversity of the ecosystem. Both these policies are currently under review.

Performance results

Of the top 30 stocks ranked by gross value of production, 14 stocks had a biomass level that equated to the maximum economic yield targets (or proxy) during 2016–17. Of the remaining stocks, 12 are subject to international harvest strategies or treaties and four are not currently suited to maximum economic yield for biological or other reasons, so are managed using other sustainability measures.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences Fishery Status Reports 2017 reported the number of fish stocks solely managed by AFMA subject to overfishing (a stock that is experiencing too much fishing and the removal rate from the stock is unsustainable) remained at zero (for the fourth consecutive year). The sustainability performance of 93 fish stocks was assessed across 21 fisheries. Sixty-five stocks were assessed across nine fisheries that are managed solely by AFMA on behalf of the Australian Government, and 28 stocks were assessed across 12 fisheries that are managed jointly with other Australian jurisdictions or other countries.

Seven stocks continued to have biomass levels remaining low enough to pose an unacceptable risk to the stock (referred to as overfished). This is the result of historic over harvesting and these stocks are subject to stock rebuilding plans. AFMA spent 2016–17 completing its review of the ecological risk assessment framework which will be implemented in 2017–18. The framework will assist AFMA in pursuing its legislative and corporate objectives related to ecological sustainability. It forms a key part of our broader risk management strategy.

In October 2016 the Commission endorsed AFMA’s approach to development of the Ecological Risk Management Guide and to its future implementation. Following consultation with management advisory committees, resource assessment groups and the Ecological Risk Assessment Technical Working Group, the Commission approved the final Ecological Risk Management Guide at its April 2017 meeting.

We also developed an Ecological Risk Management Policy which explains why the Ecological Risk Management Guide was developed and how it is to be used. The Commission approved the Ecological Risk Management Policy at its June 2017 meeting.

As part of the update of AFMA’s ecological risk management system, ecological risk assessments have been undertaken for the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery and the Small Pelagic Fishery under the revised methodology. These ecological risk assessments will be completed during 2017–18 and those of other fisheries will follow in future years.

Performance criteria

2016–17 Target3

2016–17 Actual4

Criterion source: The performance criteria below are recorded in AFMA’s chapter in the Agriculture and Water Resources Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17 p. 200 and in AFMA’s Corporate Plan for 2016–19 p. 11.

1.1 For economically significant stocks 5:

 

a) Maximise the number of key commercial stocks with harvest strategy targets based on maximum economic yield or the best available proxy.67

18

14

b) Improve the number of stocks in (a) assessed as being on target.

6

4

c) For those stocks in (a) that are assessed as not on target, improve the numbers that are heading towards their target reference point.

5

4

1.2 For Commonwealth fisheries’ stocks managed solely by AFMA:

(a) Number of fish stocks subject to overfishing.8

0

0

1.3 The number of species assessed as remaining at high risk after mitigation.9

64

72

1.4 The number of stocks that are assessed as overfished, and, if effectively managed, may lead to the stock to being sustainable

7

7

* Patterson, H, Noriega, R, Georgeson, L, Larcombe, J and Curtotti, R 2017. Fishery status reports 2017, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra. CC BY 4.0.

Assessment of performance against the purpose

In 2016–17 no fish stocks solely managed by AFMA were subject to overfishing – a strong reflection of effective fisheries management. However, while our performance in relation to ecological sustainability remained on target, the number of economically significant stocks with harvest strategy targets based on maximum economic yield or the best available proxy (14) was lower than the target of 18. This, in large part, reflected variability of catch rates with the stocks making up ‘economically significant stocks’, that is, AFMA’s top 30 stocks by value, changing. As a result, four stocks that were managed to maximum economic yield targets dropped out of the top 30 commercial stocks and four stocks not managed to maximum economic yield targets moved into the top 30 commercial stocks.

While we were completing work on the environmental risk assessment and risk management framework, we maintained existing actions and programs resulting in the same number of species actually or potentially at high risk following mitigation in 2016–17 – refer table below. Please note that this includes protected species which are considered high risk bycatch regardless of the actual level of threat.

Figure 1: Species at potential or actual high risk in 2016–17 after mitigation

Species

Sharks/rays

22

Invertebrates

9

Marine reptiles

1

Bony fish

5

Marine birds

1

Marine mammals*

34

Total

72

* 29 Whales/dolphins, 5 seals/sea lions

Analysis of performance against the purpose

Status of fish stocks

The most recent fisheries stock status report issued by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences shows:

  • For the fourth year there are no fish stocks in fisheries solely managed by AFMA where the harvesting level is likely to result in the stock becoming overfished, or prevent the stock from rebuilding from an overfished state.
  • There are seven stocks where biomass levels remain low enough to pose an unacceptable risk to the stock. However, the rebuilding of such fish stocks can be a long term exercise, often taking decades to complete. For example, it is only since 2015 that AFMA has been able to re-open the orange roughy fishery off eastern Tasmania following 10 years of closure and monitoring of stock recovery.

Bycatch species at high risk after mitigation

During 2016–17 AFMA continued to apply existing actions and programs to ensure the number of species actually or potentially at high risk following mitigation did not increase (refer figure 2). AFMA’s finalisation of its framework on environmental risk assessment and risk management, together with input into the Commonwealth Policy reviews (see below), should support decreased risks for bycatch species in the future.

Figure 2: Number of species at potential or actual

Number of species at potential or actual

Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy and Fisheries Bycatch Policy

The purpose of the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy is to ensure that key commercial fish species are managed for long-term biological sustainability and economic profitability, both of which are central priorities for AFMA. Similarly, the Bycatch Policy’s primary objective is to minimise fishing-related impacts on bycatch species in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development and with regard to the structure, productivity, function and biological diversity of the ecosystem. We continued to work with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to pursue these policies and their Guidelines, to ensure that they are practical and cost-effectively implemented. Both policies are currently under review. The public consultation period for comment on the new draft policies has closed and release of the finalised policies is expected in 2017–18.

Improve the net economic returns from Commonwealth fisheries to the Australian community

Purpose

Non-compliance with AFMA’s management rules and regulations undermines the value of fishing concessions which ultimately affects the value and viability of Australia’s fishing industry. Non-compliance can also ultimately lead to the closure of areas and/or fisheries as a result of significant environmental impacts such as depletion of fish stocks.

Performance results

Performance criteria

2016–17
Target

2016–17
Actual

Criterion source: The performance indicators below are recorded in AFMA’s chapter in the Agriculture and Water Resources Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17 p. 200 and in AFMA’s Corporate Plan for 2016–19 p. 13.

2.1 Percentage of treatments targets met for all priority domestic compliance risks.

90%

85%

2.2 Percentage disposal rate of apprehended foreign illegal unreported and unregulated vessels and suspected irregular entry vessels.

100%

100%*

* Two of the 15 foreign boats apprehended (one Vietnamese and one Indonesian) sank at sea post apprehension. All 13 boats delivered to AFMA were disposed of.

Assessment of performance against the purpose

AFMA’s performance targets for its domestic and foreign compliance
operations were generally met. Maintaining focused actions and high visibility amongst operators are key contributors as we continue to encourage voluntary compliance rather than have to always take enforcement action against conscious non-compliance.

Analysis of performance against the purpose

National (domestic) compliance

AFMA’s National Compliance Operations and Enforcement Policy aims to effectively deter illegal fishing in Commonwealth fisheries and the Australian Fishing Zone. In order to achieve this aim AFMA continues to use a risk based compliance and enforcement program that consists of four major components:

  • communication and education;
  • general deterrence;
  • targeted risks; and
  • maintenance.
AFMA domestic compliance officer conducting surveillance

AFMA domestic compliance officer conducting surveillance activity Lakes Entrance Photo courtesy: AFMA

Communication and education

AFMA has included education and communication programs for stakeholders within its overall 2016–17 program. These included infield education through fisheries officers, monthly compliance articles and feature stories on AFMA’s website.

In particular, in order to assist operators in improving their by-catch handling practices, we developed and provided fishers with a guide to assist in defining the acceptable treatment of bycatch species to ensure the chances of survival. Bycatch species may include fish, crustaceans, sharks, molluscs, marine mammals, reptiles and birds. Bycatch also includes listed protected species under the Environment and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The guide was distributed to all Commonwealth operators and is available on the our website.
www.afma.gov.au/sustainability-environment/bycatch-discarding/bycatch-reports-publications-id-guides/

Since the implementation of the fishing concession bycatch conditions in October 2016 there has been a 38 per cent drop in the average number of bycatch mishandling reports observed through e-monitoring analysis and reported to the National Intelligence Unit.

General Deterrence Program

As part of our general domestic deterrence program during 2016–17, AFMA fisheries officers undertook 55 port visits, five sea patrols and ten aerial surveillance flights and conducted 233 boat inspections and 95 fish receiver inspections. The program saw a high level of compliance, with no breaches or further action required in 89 per cent of the inspections. While this was marginally below the program ‘target threshold’ for voluntary compliance of 90–95 per cent, we did undertake 19 per cent more boat inspections and fish receiver premises inspections during 2016–17. This would suggest a positive impact on operators by the General Deterrence Program.

AFMA fisheries officers undertaking boarding vessels

AFMA fisheries officers undertaking boarding vessels at sea training Photo courtesy: AFMA

Targeted Risk Programs

Compliance with AFMA’s satellite based Vessel Monitoring System and/or e-monitoring system, quota evasion and bycatch mishandling were identified as risk areas for the 2016–17 domestic compliance program. A rate of 98 per cent of boats fully compliant with the Vessel Monitoring System was set as the compliance target.

The Vessel Monitoring System compliance rates remained high with an average of 97.1 per cent (a small increase on 2015–16) of all units being operational at any time. There was no requirement to order any boats to remain in port for Vessel Monitoring System related issues. Out of the 75 vessels fitted with e-monitoring equipment AFMA investigated three matters concerning non-compliance. These included one incident involving equipment being tampered with (resulting in a prosecution), one for fishing without an e-monitoring fitted (caution issued) and one for failing to operate/maintain the e-monitoring system (warning issued).

Maintenance Programs

AFMA implemented a number of maintenance programs to monitor risks which had been targeted in previous years but require ongoing treatment.

These risks include failing to reconcile quota, fishing in closed areas, failing to fit and use bycatch reduction devices to prevent or reduce interactions with threatened, endangered and protected species.

Quota reconciliation non-compliance rates fluctuated during 2016–17 (figure 4). Thirty operators were detected in breach in total.

Figure 4: 28 Quota Reconciliation program results as at 30 June 2017

28 Quota Reconciliation program results as at 30 June 2017

The quota reconciliation program has significantly reduced the seriousness of these matters with all operators immediately reconciling once notified by fisheries officers and without the need for further enforcement action.

Fisheries closure monitoring was implemented in July 2010 to address fishing closure compliance. This process continued to be very effective during 2016–17 with the level of non-compliance continuing to remain at all-time lows, with no incidents occurring during 2016–17 (figure 5) as compared with 2015–16 when 10 breaches were detected.

Figure 5: Results of 2016–17 closure reports

Results of 2016–17 closure reports

AFMA domestic prosecutions for 2016–17

During 2016–17, we finalised three prosecution matters resulting in a total of $4500 in fines handed down for three convictions. Offences included quota evasion, failing to report an interaction with a dolphin and tampering with e-monitoring equipment. Sustainability of fish stocks can be significantly impacted by quota evasion. As in 2015–16 AFMA continued to target the issue through the use of data analysis including the use of evasion detection tools to assist in the identification of possible quota evasion. The National Investigations Taskforce continued to work with a range of agencies to investigate possible quota evasion and target systemic cases and/or large scale cases of fraud against the quota system.

Foreign compliance

AFMA’s foreign compliance activities ensure that Australia’s fish stocks
and the marine environment are not adversely affected by illegal foreign fishing. In conjunction with other Australian Government agencies we applied a multi-faceted approach to combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing that includes on-the-water surveillance and enforcement, in-country education, capacity building and diplomatic representations to flag States and States with links to nationals on board illegal, unreported and unregulated vessels.

AFMA works closely with other Australian Government agencies in detecting and responding to incidents of illegal foreign fishing within Australian waters and in engaging with other countries in developing regional strategies for combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Our engagement with Regional Fisheries Management Organisations and other international fora ensures that Australia’s fisheries management is consistent with actions taken regionally and internationally, particularly in relation to straddling or migratory stocks and in areas adjacent to the Australian Fishing Zone.

AFMA’s participation in the work of these regional fishing bodies includes collaborating with other members to develop regional compliance and management measures and providing annual reports on the implementation of those measures. We also chair working groups, share information on fisheries management and compliance approaches, develop proposals and take action to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Northern waters

AFMA supports the Maritime Border Command through the provision of specialist fisheries officers both in the Australian Maritime Border Operations Centre in Canberra and on board Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy patrol boats. Our efforts focused on high risk areas for incursions by illegal fishers and deterred fishers operating in close proximity to the Australian Fishing Zone from conducting illegal fishing operations.

During 2016–17, 15 illegal foreign fishing vessels were apprehended in the Australian Fishing Zone. Eight vessels were from Vietnam, six from Indonesia and one from Papua New Guinea. Following investigation and prosecution by AFMA, the penalties against convicted fishers included fines up to $110 000 for an individual, suspended jail sentences up to nine months and actual jail sentences up to six months. All boats were forfeited to the Commonwealth and were either destroyed or disposed of.

The 15 foreign fishing vessels apprehended in 2016–17 is a decrease from the 20 apprehended in 2015–16 and maintains the downward trend of foreign incursions from the 367 in one year a decade ago. This low level of incursions can be attributed to the direct deterrence provided as a result of the prosecution of offenders and confiscation of their boats; in country education and outreach programs delivered by AFMA along with regional cooperation; and capacity building initiatives directed towards assisting our neighbours in strengthening their fisheries compliance frameworks.

The eight Vietnamese vessels apprehended in 2016–17 is a slight increase over the six apprehended in 2015–16. All were apprehended in the Coral Sea off northern Queensland and were targeting beche de mer or sea cucumber. Vietnamese vessels have also been apprehended by New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia and the Solomon Islands. The increase in activity can be attributed to number of factors including:

  • favourable prices for target species
  • the depletion of local fisheries and the relative abundance of fish stocks in Australian waters
  • the displacement of the illegal vessels from other countries as they tighten their own fisheries enforcement regimes.

AFMA and other Australian agencies are working collaboratively with Vietnam to deter their fishers from embarking on illegal fishing forays.

Southern ocean

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Southern Ocean remains a key area of focus for AFMA. Nearly all known illegal, unreported and unregulated vessels remain out of action as a result of effective regional cooperation involving relevant port States, flag States and States with nationals that control and benefit from the activities of these vessels. We continue to cooperate with our partners and commend those countries that continue to play their part in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

During 2016–17, the FV Sea Breeze was included on the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Non-Contracting Party illegal, unreported and unregulated Vessel List for unauthorised fishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean. This vessel was sighted by an Australian surveillance aircraft west of Christmas Island in April 2017, transiting north and possibly looking to offload southern ocean catch. Australia notified our regional partners in South East Asia of the sighting (all parties to the Regional Plan of Action – illegal, unreported and unregulated, as well as Korea and China) and alerted them to close their ports to this vessel. No further information on the location of the vessel was forthcoming and AFMA continues to monitor the situation.

AFMA continues to cooperate closely with New Zealand, France, Spain, INTERPOL and our international partners in investigating the activity of illegal, unreported and unregulated vessels and in supporting surveillance operations in the Southern Ocean within Australia’s exclusive economic zones and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Area.

Capacity building

AFMA’s regional cooperation and capacity building initiatives aim to build collaborative relationships and assist our regional partners in strengthening their fisheries frameworks. This year has seen compliance training delivered throughout the Pacific and South East Asia under the Regional Plan of Action to promote responsible fishing practices including combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ Port State Measures Agreement and other international agreements.

We also delivered initiatives under the framework of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Government Partnerships for Development program, including collaborating with the Vietnamese Government to address the increasing trend of illegal Vietnamese fishing throughout the Pacific. A key focus for 2016–17 was supporting the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency in working with Pacific Island countries to implement the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement. The Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement is a multilateral cooperative agreement that seeks to enhance the effectiveness of surveillance and enforcement activity in the Pacific in targeting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and other law enforcement activities.

Multilateral patrols/operations

During 2016–17, AFMA participated in 12 operations, comprising five multilateral operations, three United States Coast Guard patrols and bilateral patrols with France, Vanuatu and Indonesia, to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Pacific. Over 27 international vessels were boarded and inspected by AFMA fisheries officers with several boats found to be in breach of licence conditions and international obligations. AFMA officers were able to use their language skills and subject matter expertise to assist our international partners in achieving significant outcomes.

Increasing economic returns

Complementing this deterrence of domestic and foreign illegal fishing, AFMA has been increasing its capacity to analyse quota market economics and support operators in maximising returns.

To improve the net economic returns from Commonwealth fisheries to the Australian community in 2016–17, AFMA made progress:

  • in collecting and using economic information including trading prices of quota and gear statutory fishing rights
  • in assessing the feasibility and cost effectiveness of individual accounting for discards of quota species from individuals’ quota holdings
  • in reviewing overcatch and undercatch provisions in the Quota Administration Policy
  • in reviewing management of catch of quota species in overlapping and adjacent fisheries.

Quota and gear statutory fishing rights prices, in combination with other pricing and fishery information, will assist us in assessing the economic impacts on fishing operators of AFMA management decisions.

AFMA is undertaking a cost benefit analysis to assess if it is cost-effective to individually account for discards of quota species from individuals’ quota holdings. Individual accountability for discards of quota species may improve net economic returns of Commonwealth fisheries through:

  • reduced and/or avoided discards by individual fishers
  • better stock assessment leading to more accurate total allowable catches
  • higher asset values of the operators as a result of better management of discards leading to higher capital inflow in the industry
  • encouraging trading of statutory fishing rights.

During 2016–17 AFMA continued its review of undercatch and overcatch provisions in AFMA’s Quota Administration Policy. These provisions provide fishers with flexibility to account for fluctuations in stock availability and form a component of how AFMA manages quota. These provisions allow quota holders to carry-over a proportion of unused quota entitlement (undercatch) or above-quota catch (overcatch) from one season to the next. The review of undercatch and overcatch arrangements is expected to be finalised in 2017–18.

Our Quota Administration Policy recognises that fishers incidentally catch quota species managed under separate plans of management in overlapping fisheries. During 2016–17 AFMA reviewed these arrangements with the intention that all catches of quota stocks in overlapping fisheries should be covered by quota. However, the extent of the implementation will depend on outcomes from cost benefit analysis due to be completed in 2017–18.

Deliver effective, cost efficient and transparent management and regulator arrangements

Purpose

Reducing cost pressures on fishing operators through efficient and effective fisheries management and providing greater insights and accountability for stakeholders into AFMA decisions are key aspects of delivering on this objective and related corporate goals.

Performance results

Performance criteria

2016–17 Target

2016–17 Actual

Criterion source: The performance measures described below are taken from commitments made to the Minister or other stakeholders in support of the above objectives

3.1 Red tape reduction initiatives completed

13

6

Performance measure measurement method: The red tape reduction register as at 30 June 2017 records estimated completion dates. Note: Since the program’s inception 33 red tape initiatives have been completed, one initiative has been closed. A further 17 initiatives are currently in progress. The Minister may endorse further initiatives in future.

3.2 Cost recovery charges do not exceed the levels derived by increasing the 2005–06 recoveries by the Consumer Price Index each year

$18.1m

$31.9m

Performance measure measurement method: Calculated using 2005–06 total cost recoveries and adding CPI adjustment based on CPI data. Forecasted CPI estimates are based on Reserve Bank of Australia data: 2.1% (average estimates for 2016–17), 2.5% (Outyear estimates)

Assessment of performance against the purpose

AFMA delivered effective and cost efficient management and regulator arrangements by introducing innovations, removing inefficient practices and ensuring operational costs were within budget. These activities enabled AFMA to continue to meet its cost recovery commitment to operators with AFMA out-performing the cumulative Consumer Price Index by some $31.9 million (as at 2016–17).

While not all red tape initiatives were completed to intended timelines, they continue to be substantively progressed in support of operator profitability.

The undertaking of a Stakeholder Perceptions Survey in 2017 (to be repeated every two to three years), together with growing communications capabilities, expanded AFMA’s engagement with stakeholders. This will promote information sharing and sourcing of advice from stakeholders to improve our operations and the regulatory arrangements applying to fisheries.

Analysis of performance against the purpose

Red tape reduction initiatives

AFMA is committed to minimising the amount and complexity of regulation through its red tape reduction agenda, while maintaining effective fisheries management. Our red tape reduction agenda provides opportunities for improvement to our systems and services to ultimately benefit our stakeholders. AFMA has worked closely with industry, scientists and state and territory regulators to streamline processes and remove unnecessary fisheries regulations with 50 initiatives that have been or are being implemented since 2015.

Some of the key red tape reductions AFMA has achieved during 2016–17 include:

Removing net length restrictions

The gillnet sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery limits catches by setting a cap on the amount of commercial fish that can be taken, known as a quota. Another way to control fishing effort is to place controls on the fishing gear that is used. As the existing quota controls are effectively limiting the total catch of commercial species permitted by each fisher, the additional effort controls are unnecessary for sustainable management and so the length restrictions placed on gillnets have been removed from the fishery. The removal of net length restrictions allows each fisher to choose the amount of net they use to maximise their efficiency.

Removing trip limits on mahi mahi

Under the previous Memorandum of Understanding with Western Australia, Commonwealth operators in the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery were limited to 10 mahi mahi per trip. Mahi mahi are a valuable non-target commercial species when fishing for tuna in the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery. Fishers often catch more than 10 mahi mahi in a trip and most of these fish are dead at the time of landing so this results in discarding of otherwise saleable fish. Following consultation with fishers and with agreement of the Western Australian Minister, the trip limit has been increased to 200 mahi mahi, thereby removing instances of discarding of valuable table fish.

Allowing fishers to add and remove agents online

AFMA has added new functionality to our online licensing portal, GoFish, to allow our clients to better manage their fishing business. This new functionality allows fishers to authorise people to act as an agent on their behalf using the online portal. This change removes the need for fishers to submit paper forms to AFMA thereby allowing fishers to conduct their business more efficiently.

Co-management arrangements

Co-management arrangements to encourage greater industry responsibility for fisheries impacts are another approach by AFMA to promote transparent engagement with industry. We are currently reviewing existing co-management arrangements with the Great Australian Bight Fishing Industry Association to maximise the benefits of co-management and to make improvements appropriate given staffing changes at the Great Australian Bight Fishing Industry Association.

The Northern Prawn Fishery industry works closely with AFMA and cooperates through co-management arrangements to assist us with a range of key management functions. For example, the industry manages the collection and provision of catch and effort information, the quality control of the information and its dissemination to all users.

AFMA also developed co-management arrangements with the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association. A trawl industry advisory group is being established to provide advice to AFMA and the Commission on trawl specific management issues such as research priorities, by-catch, discards, cost recovered levies, species specific area-based management and promotion of industry compliance.

Electronic monitoring (e-monitoring)

For two years AFMA has been running a fulltime e-monitoring program in four fisheries: the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, the Small Pelagic Fishery (midwater trawl sector) and the Gillnet Hook and Trap sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. This program follows more than a decade of trials and complements AFMA’s observer program and with the use of feedback reports, has assisted skippers in improving the data AFMA receives from logbooks. The e-monitoring program has also provided an effective and cost efficient means to ensure fishing regulations are being adhered to.

The e-monitoring program has allowed us to continue to implement an individual accountability approach to management in these fisheries. AFMA will continue to apply the most cost efficient monitoring programs to meet regulatory needs.

Evaluating the cost effectiveness of outsourcing observer program (observer market testing)

AFMA’s observer program places observers (independent of the fishing industry) on fishing vessels to provide reliable and verified information on fishing catch, effort, and practices. The program also monitors the impact of fishing on the broader marine environment including protected species.

AFMA reviews the program from time to time to ensure it pursues its legislative objective of sustainable fishing in a cost effective way. While widely recognised for the quality of its service, the cost of the program has changed over the years for a number of reasons including coverage levels, more fisheries requiring the service and changes to the way costs are calculated. The program now makes up approximately 25 per cent of our cost recovered budget, recouped mainly through levies or fee for service on the fishing industry.

Consistent with pursuing cost-effective fishery management, we have decided to test the market. The purpose of testing the market is to see whether an external provider could operate the observer program more cost effectively than AFMA, whilst still ensuring that the quality of the program is not compromised and our ability to pursue its legislative requirements continues. AFMA’s review is in its final stages with a decision anticipated in 2017–18.

Legislative review of penalty provisions

The existing offence and penalty regime has been the subject of both internal and external reviews as part of the Review of Commonwealth Fisheries: Legislation, Policy and Management. These reviews recommended the development of a wider range of enforcement tools, the strengthening of existing powers and increase in penalty provisions.

AFMA and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources adopted a phased approach to amending the legislation and regulations to take into account the recommendations.

Phase one was finalised during 2016–17 and saw increases in penalty units for offences to a level that is consistent with other Commonwealth departments and agencies. This will provide a more effective deterrent to individuals seeking to exploit our fisheries’ resources.

Phase two to modernise the penalty provisions in the Fisheries Management Act 1991 by adopting the Regulatory Powers (Standard Powers) Act 2014 is now underway.

Stakeholder engagement

AFMA engages with a wide variety of stakeholders before making decisions on the management of Commonwealth fisheries, including scientists, commercial fishers and fishing associations, researchers, environment and conservation organisations, recreational fishers and indigenous fishers.

During 2016–17 we achieved successful engagement through a variety of channels, including:

  • Management Advisory Committees
  • Resource Assessment Groups
  • meetings with the Commonwealth Fisheries Association
  • port visits and public meetings
  • sector/issue specific meetings such as recreational fishing and the Commonwealth Marine Mammal Working Group
  • our online systems such as GoFish and the Vessel Monitoring System
  • SMS messaging
  • our website (including news stories) and social media
  • media releases
  • direct mail across all major Commonwealth fisheries.

Management Advisory Committees and Resource Assessment Groups are the major source of advice to AFMA and the Commission, reflecting the experience and expertise of the range of stakeholders with interest in the fishery or fisheries. As such they play a vital role in helping us fulfil our legislative functions and effectively pursue its objectives. Regular meetings of these committees and groups were held during 2016–17. Around 20 per cent of management advisory committee recommendations are accepted by the Commission.

As part of AFMA’s ongoing commitment to service improvement, a market research agency was commissioned to conduct research with our stakeholders to measure current perceptions of our performance in a number of domains. The survey was undertaken in March 2017 and involved an online survey of stakeholders identified by AFMA – a total of 124 stakeholders responded to the survey invitation. Overall satisfaction was moderate, with half of respondents either satisfied or very satisfied, and one quarter being either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. A particular area of strength was the positive perception of AFMA officers as friendly, knowledgeable and responsive. There was room for improvement in the consistency of information provided and expanded communications on reasons behind management decisions.

AFMA intends to expand engagement with stakeholders, particularly individual operators as well as industry associations. Electronic messaging and more port visits are being considered.

Client service charter

Our Client Service Charter sets out the services and standards that all clients or stakeholders can expect from AFMA. It applies to all of our fisheries administration and corporate services functions, including our licensing function. Our service charter is available on our website afma.gov.au.

We use our licensing system, GoFish, to record the timeliness of responses for licensing transactions. During 2016–17 more than 99 per cent of licensing correspondence and transactions submitted by concession holders were dealt with in accordance with our Client Service Charter.

During 2016–17 AFMA received one written complaint. As the complaint required consultation with other agencies and review of historical files, we were not able to progress consideration within Client Service Charter timelines. However, this extensive analysis did enable the complaint to be well considered and a written response to be provided to the complainant.

Handlining for yellowfin tuna.

Handlining for yellowfin tuna. Photo courtesy: Georgia Langdon, AFMA

1 Not all Commonwealth fish stocks can be managed by MEY, for example, those managed under international regional bodies.

2 In AFMA managed fisheries, not including jointly and internationally managed fisheries.

3 The forecast of indicators for 2016-17 targets are based on fishery managers’ expertise and available stock assessment information. Stocks may be above or below these targets.

4 The actual performance indicators for 2016-17 are calculated based on the methodology recommended by Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences in their 2015 review of AFMA’s economic performance indicators.

5 Not all Commonwealth fish stocks can be managed by MEY, for example, those managed under international regional bodies.

6 Where higher and lower value species are caught together, different targets for the lower value species may maximise net economic returns over all.

7Assessment methodologies are being reviewed. This means projections may vary.

8 In AFMA managed fisheries, not including jointly and internationally managed fisheries.

9 Ecological risk assessments for Commonwealth managed fisheries and sub-fisheries have been completed. Species considered to be potentially at high risk are the subject of mitigation measures and further assessment. This may mean that projections of numbers of high risk species may vary from year to year. In addition, AFMA is in the process of reviewing its environmental risk assessment methodology and fishery assessments which may lead to changes in reported values in the future.