The red tape review, and associated consultations with fishing industry, provides many opportunities for improvement to our systems and services to ultimately benefit our stakeholders.
AFMA’s management of fisheries (including legislative, management plans, policy and conditions) has been developed over the years to support our objectives of efficiency and sustainability to deliver certainty of outcome and consistency in practice. Our approach to the government agenda is to focus on:
- maintaining protection to the industry and environment through appropriate regulations to ensure access to and 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.
AFMA realises that is not just the costs of complying with regulations that may create a burden to industry. Charges levied to industry may also influence the ability of industry to invest in new technology and science that may improve their productivity. AFMA has worked with industry to improve efficiency and keep costs down.
For example, in 2014-15, the AFMA levies are estimated at $14 million which is below the 2009-10 levies, CPI adjusted. AFMA cost recovered costs have reduced by 16 per cent in today’s dollars from 2005-o6.
The AFMA Commission endorsed a proposed program to revise red tape process and regulatory burden over the 2014-17 period.
The program is initially looking to reduce transactional red tape by focusing on:
- onerous compliance requests (time, effort, cost)
- duplications, overlaps, disconnects
- enabling on inhibiting regulations.
Streamlining and simplification
A number of initiatives put in place by AFMA have already benefitted the industry and the agency. These include streamlining of regulations through the Regulatory Simplification Project completed in 2011‑12, like:
- consolidation of seven standard rules into Regulation
- repeal of six fishery specific Regulations
- subsequent repeal of redundant provisions from fishery management plans and the remaining fishery specific Regulations
- an audit and consolidation of fishing concession conditions.
AFMA considers announcements to introduce accreditation for Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) approvals is a step in the right direction, with a view to streamlining red and green tape associated with applications and approvals between the fishing industry and the Department of the Environment.
In addition, twice a year the Australian Government will review legislation to remove duplicated or redundant legislation.
Technology-based transaction and process initiatives
AFMA is progressing a number of changes to our licensing systems that will reduce transaction and application costs. The first of these came into effect on 10 April 2014. A list of those supported by the Parliamentary Secretary is undergoing consultation with industry, with a view to implement over the coming months.
Understanding and reducing the regulatory burden
AFMA is working with our stakeholders, including Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and the fishing industry to identify regulatory burden. This is being done through a stocktake and analysis of the regulatory frameworks and the cost of compliance on industry. Another study will also reveal the impact of interventions by government when agencies and state jurisdictions interact or impose burden on particular fisheries along the fishing supply chain, what costs they incur, and what steps in the supply chain carry the greatest government intervention and costs. This should assist with targeting where the best gains in regulatory reduction that can be made. AFMA has created a diagram to illustrate the approach.
Risk-based and proportionate
AFMA will be revising our risk management framework to reflect the Commonwealth risk management policy. Together with recent reports and guidelines on regulator performance frameworks released by the Productivity Commission and ANAO, AFMA will work with those frameworks to reduce the cost to the regulator and to industry. In line with government policy, it is important to ensure compliance to the point where the compliance costs are proportionate with the benefits of the risks being mitigated.
We will continue to work with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Department of Defence and other relevant government departments in border protection activities to patrol and act against illegal and foreign fishing in Australian waters.
The government also seeks to improve engagement with stakeholders – a point reinforced by the 2013 Productivity Commission report into Regulators Engagement with Small Business.
AFMA regularly engages with the Commonwealth Fisheries Association (CFA) to work through issues and costs associated with our operations. AFMA works with advisory groups on managing fisheries and fish stocks and engages regularly with environmental NGOs to discuss fishery and ecosystem issues.
AFMA is improving its stakeholder engagement through:
- the development of a Stakeholder and Community Engagement Strategy
- AFMA’s website and digital records information systems being upgraded to enhance remote and rapid access to fishery, science and other management information
- improving access to information and effective communication with fishers by continued investment in technology like the GOFish, and online transaction and enquiry system
- continued liaison with known fisheries and marine environment associations on regulatory issues and options to reduce the burden on business
- introducing online forums with external stakeholders.
AFMA’s new website will also feature a stakeholder engagement page with details on industry and community consultation, like meetings, port visits and public comment periods.
AFMA will update stakeholders regularly of progress against the issues and ideas they bring forward as part of the reducing red tape process.
As part of the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda, the Government is examining opportunities for greater Australian Government acceptance of international standards and risk assessments. This is an important part of the Government’s plan to cut red tape and foster a lower cost, business friendly environment with less regulation.
The Australian Government has set the following guiding principle with respect to international standards:
that if a system, service or product has been approved under a trusted international standard or risk assessment, then portfolio regulators should not impose any additional requirements for approval in Australia, unless it can be demonstrated that there is a good reason to do so
AFMA has therefore developed two criteria (and aspects for consideration) it will use when determining the acceptability of trusted international standards and risk assessments. These are:
Criterion 1 – Applicability to Commonwealth fisheries
- the legitimacy and applicability to the Australian context
- the absence of specific conditions or circumstances that warrant distinct regulatory standards and risk assessment processes
- the cost benefit/incentive in adopting
- stakeholder feedback and any other relevant considerations are positive
- the absence of legislative or other restrictions on use
To be achieved by
- consideration of Australian data, conditions and circumstances in the context of international standards/risk assessments
- consistency with objectives of the Fisheries Management Act 1991
- ongoing consultation with international scientists and managers as part of developing management arrangements to pursue world’s best practice
- consultation with key stakeholders
Criterion 2 – Integrity of other jurisdiction compared to Australia
- potential international regulations and standards must have been developed through robust and transparent processes comparable to those applied in Australia.
To be judged by
- a credible and consistent track record in regulating
- a publicly transparent assessment process in place to provide full access to reports and the data that supports the regulatory decision
- active management of the quality of approvals and risk assessment (such as peer review, independent assessment and auditing of processes and outcomes)
AFMA also seeks views from stakeholders to identify further opportunities for reform against the principle and criteria. If you feel that you can suggest any international standards or risk assessments consistent with Government fisheries legislation and policy that could potentially be assessed for use by AFMA, please email vyt.vilkaitis [at] afma.gov.au, or write to us.