5 February 2013

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is continuing its tough stance on enforcing commercial fishing regulations and in a report released today the Auditor-General has confirmed that AFMA’s compliance program is effective and well-managed.

The audit report reviews AFMA’s compliance and enforcement work, finding that only minor improvements can be made by assessing compliance risks more often and measuring results more comprehensively.

Using a combination of high tech monitoring and targeted covert operations, AFMA compliance officers keep a close eye on those fishing in Commonwealth waters to make sure that the rules are being followed at all times.

Recent inspections focusing on Commonwealth fishing boats at ports in Victoria and southern New South Wales revealed three breaches, confirming that the majority of operators are following the rules.

Surveillance flights over boats in Australia’s South East Trawl Fishery also found all boats to be compliant in using mandatory devices to prevent seabirds becoming caught or injured in fishing gear.

AFMA General Manager Operations Peter Venslovas said that by and large commercial fishers were responsible in the way they complied with the rules.

“The fishing industry understands that these rules are in place to ensure the ecosystem is kept in balance and the stock is sustainable into the future”, Mr Venslovas said.

“But we do keep a close watch on fishing operations and those few that think they can get away with taking more fish than they are allowed to or fishing inside closed areas should think again.”

Fisheries offences carry a range of penalties including fines, forfeiture of catch and boats and suspension of fishing licences.

AFMA uses satellite tracking systems, on-board video cameras and AFMA fisheries observers to monitor fishing activities in the $320 million-a-year Commonwealth fishing industry.

Fisheries compliance officers conduct inspections of boats and catch at sea (both by boarding and using air surveillance), in port and at the fish receivers where the fish are processed.

Contact Sophie Dening, AFMA Communications 02 6225 5541 or 0447 942 840 or sophie.dening@afma.gov.au