67th AFMA commission meeting - Chairman's summary

The Commission met for its 67th meeting in Canberra on 23 July 2019. This was the first meeting for four newly appointed members (Mr Brett McCallum, Ms Sevaly Sen, Mr Scott Spencer, and Dr David Smith) and one re-appointed member (Ms Catherine Cooper).  The Chair (Ms Helen Kroger) and CEO (Mr Wez Norris) also continued in their existing appointments.

Key decisions and discussions by the Commission at its meeting included:

  • Draft revised Harvest Strategy for the Aquarium Sector

In considering the proposed revised Harvest Strategy, Commissioners noted that AFMA had sought to engage extensively with the two operators in the sector. Clearly defined catch triggers were being introduced, drawing on the 2012 Reducing Uncertainty in Stock Status (RUSS) project. AFMA would also be seeking to streamline the provision of logbook information through discussions with Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, which currently has responsibility for logbook services for the Aquarium sector of the Coral Sea Fishery.

As a result, the Commission approved the draft Harvest Strategy Framework: Aquarium Sector of the Coral Sea Fishery 2019 for implementation from August 2019.

  • Management Advisory Committee member appointments to SBTMAC, GABMAC and SEMAC

The Commission considered the Selection Panel process and reports for the various applicants for membership of three Management Advisory Committees (MACs) –the Southern Bluefin Tuna MAC, Great Australian Bight MAC, and the South East MAC. A range of industry, research, environment/conservation, economics and recreation members, as appropriate to each MAC, were appointed until 30 June 2022.

  • Regionalisation of quota Statutory Fishing Rights (SFRs) in the SESSF

The Commission considered possible future management arrangements for the pink ling, blue warehou and jackass morwong stocks in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, principally through regionalising quota SFRs. This possible approach had recently been discussed by AFMA Management with east coast operators in the SESSF who had identified significant concerns about impacts on their ongoing viability. Commissioners also considered the removal of inshore ocean perch from the ocean perch quota basket.

In discussing a regionalisation approach, Commissioners noted that advances in science, particularly around genomics, could assist work to review stock structures. A review team of scientists would support recognition of the independence of outcomes. At the same time, it would also be necessary to gain an understanding of economic impacts under a number of potential management arrangements drawing on the expertise of AFMA’s Economic Working Group (EWG). Accordingly, the Commission agreed to AFMA Management engaging independent experts to consider the stock structure for pink ling, blue warehou and jackass morwong and whether the structure is sufficiently certain to support separate management. The Commission also requested Management to approach the EWG to provide advice about the economic impacts of regionalisation, particularly for east coast fishing businesses. The outcomes of this work should be provided to the Commission for its consideration of future management arrangements for these stocks. In the meantime, the Commission agreed to removing inshore ocean perch from the ocean perch quota basket.

  • Other issues

As a new Commission, discussions also covered AFMA’s future directions and outcomes. Some internal and external factors that could impact on the agency included resource sharing between sectors, technology growth, climate change, pressures on cost efficiency, harmonisation of fisheries management across jurisdictions, social audits and stakeholder engagement, support for productivity gains, value adding, data base development and analysis, and changes to the institutional landscape. These Commissioner discussions will continue with the intention of finalising a revised Strategic Vision for AFMA.

During the meeting, Commissioners also had the opportunity for discussions with senior Executive officers in the Department of Agriculture on working relations, including shared teams and secondments and AFMA input to work on a Resource Sharing Policy.


Helen Kroger


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