Cooperating with other countries is vital to successfully combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and to sustainably manage shared fish stocks that cross multiple Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and the high seas.

Management of highly migratory, shared and straddling stocks is guided by a range of multilateral and intergovernmental agreements. International treaties such as the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) underpin Australia’s international fisheries obligations and cooperation.

International fisheries management organisations (IFMOs) have been established with a range of mandates regarding the sustainable management of international fisheries, fish stocks and their related environmental impacts. This includes the provision of scientific advice, coordination of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) activities, and establishment of binding conservation and management measures. 

Our engagement within IFMOs (which include global, regional and subregional fisheries organisations) ensures that stocks targeted by Australian fishers are managed sustainably throughout their range. Australia is also a strong leader in advocating for science-based decision making and effective regulatory frameworks. Our engagement facilitates regional and international actions and responses, particularly in relation to highly migratory, shared and straddling stocks in areas adjacent to the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ).

AFMA supports Australia’s engagement at bilateral and multilateral international meetings to protect Australia’s interests, to ensure measures are implemented at the national level, and to support the continued development and strengthening of MCS measures to combat IUU fishing.

Australia is party to three IFMOs that create binding obligations for countries that share in the harvest of highly migratory species:

Non-highly migratory species are covered by equivalent organisations and binding obligations. Australia is party to the:

Areas of competence for international fisheries management organisations. Source: ABARES Fishery status reports 2017.

International and regional fisheries bodies and treaties

In addition, there are a number of other international and regional fisheries bodies, treaties and arrangements that form part of Australia’s fisheries management and regulations. These include, but are not limited to, the:

AFMA also supports the strengthening and implementation of international treaties, through information sharing and bilateral or multilateral collaboration with other flag, coastal, or port States. Regional collaboration is key in addressing IUU fishing threats and strengthening regional MCS frameworks.

Frameworks such as the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA), between Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members, support the exchange of fisheries data and information, as well as procedures for cooperation in compliance and enforcement activities concerning operators of IUU fishing vessels.

Bilateral arrangements

Australia is also party to a number of bilateral arrangements that provide for cooperation in fisheries including the:

Ongoing collaboration and cooperation between countries is essential. Australia will continue to ensure that frameworks are sound, efforts are coordinated and responses are targeted and effective in deterring IUU both within the AFZ and within waters where we have an interest.