AFMA and economics

AFMA pursues its economic objective by setting harvest level targets for key commercial stocks, which contribute to meeting maximum economic yield (MEY) for the fishery, as set out in the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy.

MEY for a stock is pursued by setting catch or effort levels that are sustainable and best enable net economic returns to be maximised. In some cases, alternative targets to MEY may be used by AFMA to meet international arrangements, achieve ecological or stock recovery objectives or seek fishery-wide (rather than species-specific) MEY. In these cases, AFMA aims to maximise economic returns from the management of a fishery within that context.  

In addition to AFMA reporting performance, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) independently assesses AFMA’s performance against its objectives and reports this in the Annual Fishery Status Reports for Commonwealth Fisheries (here).   

“ABARES use a range of indicators to assess the economic status of fisheries. These include surveys of Net Economic Returns (NER) calculated by ABARES for some of the most valuable Australian Government–managed fisheries, together with productivity measures and fisher terms of trade that support the interpretation of a fishery's trend in NER. For other fisheries, indicators of fishery revenue and costs (for example, estimates of gross value of production [GVP], and measures of fishing effort and fuel prices) are analysed to evaluate likely changes in NER. The level of unused fishing rights ('latency') can also provide an indication of NER for data-poor fisheries” (ABARES). 

AFMA’s key economic reporting metrics have been developed to link directly with the ABARES framework and assessments. This is to ensure an independent view of our performance, take advantage of ABARES’ expertise and avoid duplication of data collection and reporting. Both reporting frameworks also allow AFMA to consider economic risk when making decisions about management measures for a fishery. 

Reporting Performance against AFMA’s economic objective

Further detail on how the AFMA monitors and reports its performance against the net economic returns objectives of the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Fisheries Management Act 1991 is provided in the interim paper: Commission Guidance: Reporting Performance Against AFMA’s Net Economic Returns Objective