FAQ Draft position statement on how AFMA considers the social aspects of ecologically sustainable development

What is ecologically sustainable development?

Australia’s National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1992) defines ecologically sustainable development (ESD) as: ‘using, conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased’.

What is AFMA’s ESD objective?

AFMA’s objectives include “ensuring that the exploitation of fishery resources and the carrying on of any related activities are conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (which includes exercising the precautionary principle), in particular the need to have regard to the impact of fishing activities on non-target species and the long term sustainability of the marine environment” (Fisheries Management Act 1991 (FMA (s3(1)(b)), Fisheries Administration Act 1991 (FAA (s6(b)).

Why develop a position statement, and why now?

The ESD objective and principles in AFMA’s legislation incorporate the three pillars of ESD (ecological, economic and social). AFMA has strongly focussed on ecological sustainability and has robust frameworks in place such as harvest strategies and ecological risk assessments. Over recent years, AFMA has also focussed more on its economic objective and is developing improved economic performance measures and collecting more economic data. With these two areas progressing well, AFMA is now turning its attention to the third pillar (social aspects) of ESD.

AFMA is aware of the increased community interest in fisheries management as a public resource and is also responding to recent changes to its legislation that requires it to take into account the interests of commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers.

AFMA is carefully considering how it incorporates the social aspects of ESD into its decision making and has developed the draft position statement as a starting point for discussions with stakeholders.

The draft statement reflects current thinking on how AFMA incorporates the social aspects of ESD into fisheries management, and also brings in future consideration of recreational and Indigenous interests.

What will happen to my comments?

The AFMA Commission will consider all the comments received before it decides whether or not to accept the draft statement.

Do you want to know more about AFMA’s ESD principles?

The principles of ESD in AFMA’s legislation are consistent with the wording used in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. There are a total of five ESD principles, and two (principles a) and c)) specifically refer to social and equity considerations.

Principles of ecologically sustainable development

(a) decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations;

(b) if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation;

(c) the principle of inter-generational equity—that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations;

(d) the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making;

(e) improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.