In a first for Commonwealth fisheries, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has delegated legislative functions to industry as part of the co-management of the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF). In a step that represents additional trust in the existing co-management arrangements, the NPF Industry Pty Ltd (NPFI) can now approve the distribution of fishery data and respond to data requests relating to the fishery.
Co-management arrangements between AFMA and the NPFI began in 2009 and since then industry has taken on increasing responsibility, said AFMA’s CEO Wez Norris.
“With the right checks and balances in place, co-management arrangements can be mutually beneficial for government and industry, and also deliver efficient sustainable management of our natural resources,” said Mr Norris.
“Over the last decade the NPFI has continued to demonstrate responsible stewardship in the NPF. The delegation of data release functions is a good example of how industry can play a leadership role in the management process”.
Along with data management, some of the other co-management responsibilities the NPFI holds are the management of; broodstock collection and supply for the prawn aquaculture industry; pre-season briefings, crew member observer program, catch and effort data summaries, and annual scientific surveys.
The NPF is Australia’s largest and most advanced prawn fishery and in 2012 was the first tropical prawn fishery in the world to be Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable, said NPFI’s CEO Annie Jarrett.
“As fishery experts, the NPFI works closely with government, scientists and regulators to ensure the NPF is responsibly and sustainably managed,” said Ms Jarrett.
“Over the past several years NPFI has led the research into and development of bycatch reduction devices that have reduced the catch of small fish bycatch by 40%.”
“The NPFI has a proven track record that shows our operators are well placed to co-manage our fishery and it is great to see that AFMA recognises that we are committed to ensuring the NPF remains sustainable for years to come.”
The 770,000 km² Northern Prawn Fishery is located off Australia’s northern coast from Cape York in Queensland to Cape Londonderry in Western Australia.
Approximately 8,000 tonnes of prawns are caught in the fishery each year, providing Australians with MSC certified sustainably caught banana, endeavour and tiger prawns.