One of AFMA’s functions is to make our fisheries management expertise available to a range of entities, including foreign countries. AFMA provides its technical expertise in fisheries to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and shares our experience in implementing effective monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) measures and tools. Cooperation with neighbouring countries enhances fisheries management and enforcement capabilities throughout the region and supports Australia’s efforts to prevent and deter IUU fishing. Our work seeks to enhance and build on each other’s strengths and relies on highly valued interpersonal relationships.
Capacity building and education with other countries
AFMA works with our neighbours to build our collective capability to fight against illegal fishing and to raise awareness of the importance of enforcing the rules. Capacity building activities enhance country and regional capacity to undertake MCS operations to combat IUU fishing.
AFMA officers provide training and on-the-job mentoring at sea, using a range of different educational material. AFMA officers also work with regional partners in undertaking community visits to talk to fishers, the broader fishing community and fisheries officers.
AFMA readily welcomes partners from other countries to visit Australia and share their experiences and to gain an understanding of the range of tools Australia uses to fight IUU fishing. IUU fishers who undermine fisheries laws may also undermine labour, safety and pollution laws as they seek to maximise the profits derived from illegal fishing activity. In Australia’s experience, collaboration between multiple agencies with responsibilities in the maritime zone can deliver a strong deterrent effect across a range of maritime threats.
This approach improves the effectiveness of fisheries policing programs within the region and helps to strengthen regional rules and regulations, as well as reducing IUU fishing in Australian waters.
Case study- Vietnam Public Information Campaign (PIC)
In 2016, Australia detected a number of Vietnamese fishing vessels illegally fishing in Australia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Fishers were venturing to areas beyond Vietnam because fisheries resources inside their EEZ were in decline and fishers were subject to low catches per unit of effort due to overfishing. Several Vietnamese vessels were also targeting high value species such as Giant Clams in the Evans Shoal area off the coast of Western Australia. In total, 20 Vietnamese vessels were apprehended and prosecuted between 2013 and 2017, with vessels destroyed, catch and fishing gear forfeited and fines imposed.
In August 2017, Australia and Vietnam signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen bilateral relations and to combat illegal fishing activity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Under the MOU, Australia and Vietnam agreed to deliver, through the Vietnamese Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and AFMA, a joint Public Information Campaign (PIC) that aimed to educate Vietnamese fishers and the wider fishing community on international fishing rules, regulations and the consequences of IUU fishing.
AFMA and MARD worked in close collaboration to develop the PIC which involved key messaging, workshop content and promotional materials including stickers, posters and t-shirts. Motorbike helmets with imprinted anti-illegal fishing messages were also distributed given motorbikes are the main form of transportation in Vietnam. This increased the visibility and distribution of the public information campaign.
Between 2017 and 2018, a series of PICs were delivered to the fishing communities of Binh Chau and Ly Son Island in Quang Ngai Province in Vietnam. Many of the Vietnamese vessels detected fishing in Australian waters and in the Pacific were registered to Quang Ngai Province.
Approximately 600 people attended the PICs, and this reach was extended to the broader community via television news and radio broadcasts and social media.
This engagement was very successful and has contributed to the significant decline in the numbers of Vietnamese vessels fishing without authorisation beyond Vietnam’s EEZ.