16 September 2013
AFMA Officer looking out at a port

Keeping watch on port

Many species of fish are highly migratory and swim between the waters of different countries and on the high seas. So, how does Australia work with other countries to manage these stocks? One way we do this is through active participation in international fisheries management organisations.

Australia is a member of a number of such organisations, such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna.

These organisations bring countries together to help conserve and manage common fisheries resources, such as tuna. Each membership country also has a duty to conserve the ecosystems and species affected by their fisheries, including seabirds, turtles, sharks and non-target species.  Therefore, these organisations also develop measures to protect these other species.

We require Commonwealth fishing operators to comply with these measures, which we do through conditions on their fishing concessions.

However, we also implement these measures more broadly, through the Fisheries Management (International Agreements) Regulations made under the Fisheries Management Act 1991. These Regulations enable Australia to enforce compliance by foreign boats with the measures, including on the high seas. They also allow AFMA to authorise officials from another country to inspect and board Australian boats suspected of illegal fishing. Australian fishing boats can also be prosecuted for fishing without authorisation for protected stocks.

The Regulations were recently amended by the Fisheries Management (Amendment) Regulations 2013, to give effect to new measures adopted by the regional fisheries organisations, and to changes to existing measures.

A copy of the regulations can be found on the ComLaw website at www.comlaw.gov.au.

For more information, contact Jim Neely, Manager, Foreign Compliance Policy on 6225 5463 or Jim.neely@afma.gov.au