1 December 2017

AFMA has concluded the tender process for its Scientific Observer Program (the Program), and has decided not to award the contract and to retain the Program in-house.

The Program places observers (independent of the fishing industry) on fishing vessels to provide verified information on fishing catch, effort, and practices of fishing vessels operating in Commonwealth waters. The Program also monitors the impact of fishing on the broader marine environment including threatened, endangered and protected species, and is active in Australian waters from the Torres Strait, to the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, including the high seas.

AFMA reviews the Program from time to time to ensure it meets its legislative objectives of ensuring the ecological sustainability of Commonwealth fisheries for the benefit of present and future generations of Australians, to improve the net economic returns of Commonwealth fisheries to the Australian community, and to deliver effective, cost efficient and accountable management.

While widely recognised for the quality of its service the cost of the Program has risen over the years it is important for AFMA to be confident it would deliver the best value for money for the Australian Government and fishing industry.

AFMA determined that the Program represented the best value for money, that risk of outsourcing was not in the best interests of the Australian community and that it would increase costs for the fishing industry.

On this basis, AFMA did not award the contract and will continue to deliver the Scientific Observer Program from within the agency. This outcome demonstrates the Program is competitive when measured against the private sector alternatives.

AFMA recovers almost all the cost of the Program from the fishing industry through fees and levies. In 2017-18 the Program is expected to cost excess of $2.031M, which corresponds to more than 2000 days at sea. The full details on the cost of delivering AFMA programs and activities can found in the agency’s Cost Recovery Implementation Statement.