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    The objectives, powers and functions of AFMA are defined by the legislation which established it and a range of legislation which it administers. AFMA’s legislative basis represents the power invested in it by the Commonwealth Parliament to manage Australia’s fishing future.

    AFMA was established under the Fisheries Administration Act 1991 following a comprehensive review of the way Commonwealth fisheries were managed. This culminated in the 1989 policy statement New Directions for Commonwealth Fisheries Management in the 1990s.

    AFMA is invested with objectives, functions and powers under the Fisheries Administration Act 1991 and the Fisheries Management Act 1991. These key pieces of legislation provide the fundamental statutory basis for our operations.

    Management plans for fisheries are established under the Fisheries Management Act 1991, and this Act also sets out the legislative basis for Statutory Fishing Rights (SFRs), licences and permits.

    The Fisheries Management Act 1991 defines the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) and provides for the majority of Commonwealth fisheries offences. It underpins our cutting-edge domestic and foreign compliance work and provides us with enforcement powers to protect Australia’s valuable fishery resources.

    The Fisheries Management Act 1991 also sets out our responsibilities in relation to the pursuit of ecologically sustainable development. We see this objective as a requirement to manage the long-term sustainability of fisheries resources for the benefit of all users and interest groups both now and in the future. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires an assessment to be carried out for all Commonwealth-managed fisheries.

    The below links will direct you to the Attorney-General’s Department ComLaw website. These Acts may not contain all relevant legislation. You should seek the advice of a lawyer before relying on these pages as a statement of the current law.

    Policy and planning

    In managing Commonwealth fisheries, AFMA has an obligation to develop plans and implement policy in the performance of its functions and the pursuit of its objectives.

    AFMA develops and implements a range of policies to support its application of the legislative and regulatory framework that exists for Commonwealth fisheries. These policies are contained within our Fisheries Management Papers and Fisheries Administration Papers.

    The majority of fisheries related policy development and planning functions, which are undertaken by AFMA’s Fisheries Branch, cover management of both domestic fisheries and the management of Australia’s international fishery treaty obligations. Key activities include:

    • development and implementation of Fisheries Management Plans and arrangements covering target and non-target species; bycatch and broader marine ecosystem impacts
    • international consultation and liaison including Regional Fishery Management Organisations (RFMOs) and management of high seas stocks
    • analysis, forecasting and research on individual fishery performance
    • stakeholder liaison and consultation, particularly through Management Advisory Committees (MACs)
    • development of ecological sustainability tools and management approaches to minimise the impacts of fishing on the marine environment.
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    Page last updated: 22/11/2023