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4. Deliver effective, cost efficient and accountable management of Commonwealth fisheries resources


AFMA delivers value for money through improved business processes and systems that provide better valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms. By removing unnecessary regulation and making it easy to comply, we are offering incentives that reward compliant operators. Alignment of our stakeholder expectations through the use of broad engagement systems and shared objectives ensures accountability to commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers and the Australian community.


Criterion source: The performance indicators below are recorded in AFMA's chapter in the Agriculture and Water Resources 2018-19 Portfolio Budget Statements p. 248 and in AFMA's Corporate Plan for 2018-21 p. 14.

Performance criteria





Industry cost recovery charges do not exceed the levels derived by increasing the 2005-05 recoveries by the Consumer Price Index each year




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Operational costs within budget/cost recovery commitment to operators with AFMA out-performing the cumulative Consumer Price Index by some $42 million (as at 2018-19). Since making this undertaking, AFMA has out-performed the cumulative CPI by more than $41.3 million. This commitment relates to levy amounts prescribed in the Fishing Levy Regulations made each year up to and including 2018-19. In 2018-19, the Fishing Levy was prescribed as $13.7 million, well below the comparable CPI adjusted target of $18.8 million.

In 2018-19 we expanded our reach to a diverse range of stakeholder groups. Regular social media posts on the AFMA Facebook page regarding state and territory consultations, fishing and fisheries updates, and information on southern bluefin tuna aim to inform and keep recreational fishers abreast of issues relevant to them.

Boosting regionally-targeted content on Facebook from Far North Queensland, across the Torres Strait and into Papua New Guinea should improve social media engagement with traditional inhabitants, traditional fishers and these communities. Regular meetings, correspondence and conversations continue with these communities to ensure an adaptive approach is taken for stakeholder engagement.


By maintaining close consideration of operator catch/cost/risks, we continue to try to minimise any increase in industry charges as well as seeking to reduce regulatory impacts. Initiatives to achieve these efficiencies include:

Red tape reduction initiatives

Red tape reduction initiatives continue to be pursued in an effort to reduce the complexity of regulation in fisheries management and assist fishers to comply with these arrangements. While not all red tape initiatives were completed to intended timelines during 2018-19, they continue to be substantively progressed in support of reduced regulatory burden and fisher profitability. Over 30 initiatives have been implemented with over 20 more progressing to streamline processes.

In 2018-19, two key initiatives involving industry led data collection in the Gillnet Hook and Trap sector, and data sharing arrangements with the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association were successfully implemented creating efficiencies in data collection and exchange.

In 2019-20, AFMA will continue to pursue a number of initiatives including:

  • reforming the catch disposal records system
  • transferring NSW Southern Fish Trawl to Commonwealth management
  • streamlining processes to support exploratory fishing
  • fee for service for data requests.

Data collection and exchange

In 2018-19, AFMA commenced the Agency Data Capture program to streamline how it collects and exchanges data with its stakeholders. Leveraging modern Application Programming Interface (API) technology, AFMA developed a proof of concept which demonstrated how external parties can easily integrate with AFMA with the purpose of digitally capturing and sharing data. The effective use of APIs for data exchange will reduce operational and technology costs and enable AFMA to deliver digital products for data exchange to a wider number of stakeholders.

AFMA has extensively trialled this product internally with success and is working with several external vendors in running further tests to verify the concept. In 2019-20, AFMA will aim to move from a proof of concept to a live system usage which is targeting Logbook and Catch Disposal Record data. AFMA also has plans to use this technology to better integrate with other parties, both government and private, in our pursuit of digitally exchanging data and information to drive efficiencies and continue making quality evidence based decisions.

Co-management arrangements

Collaboration and cooperation with industry continues to be the key in innovative fisheries management and co-managements arrangement are an example of us and industry working together for more efficient management and cost effectiveness of Commonwealth fisheries. Highlights for 2018-19 are detailed in the feature story on page 50.

Feature Story: Co-management in Commonwealth fisheries

Co-management in fisheries can be described as an arrangement where roles and responsibilities are shared by government and primary stakeholders for the efficient and sustainable management of the fishery. AFMA has tested its own and industry's capacity to co-manage Commonwealth fisheries, working closely with a number of fishery groups over the past decade. This included an extensive trial of co-management in a partnership with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, the Northern Prawn Fishery Industry and the Great Australian Bight Industry Association.

During 2018-19, we entered into co-management agreements with the Southern Shark Industry Alliance for crew-collected biological data and the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association for obtaining coordinated industry advice and species-specific management for pink ling and snapper. The Northern Prawn Fishery Industry Pty Ltd has built an extensive co-management arrangement with us since the initial trial in 2009 and is keen to continue demonstrating its capacity to take responsibility for the sustainability of the fishery.

The AFMA Commission, at its meeting in June 2019, agreed that after 10 years of experience working with these Commonwealth fisheries and seeing good results, it was time to develop a Fisheries Management Paper (FMP) on co-management. The FMP, which will be developed through 2019-20, will provide the needed guidance to Commonwealth fishery groups contemplating the benefits of taking on a greater role in the management of their fisheries. The AFMA Commission has considered the risks and believes that these can be effectively managed to achieve mutual benefits for government, the public and commercial fishers.

Fishery groups with a strong internal management and administration, good representation and leadership and shared vision with AFMA for ecologically and economically sustainable management are well positioned for co-management. Co-management can be comprehensive or simple and it works well where each party is able to use its respective expertise to achieve good outcomes. These include better operational policies, greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness and strengthened working relationships. While we can never abrogate our responsibilities, it can empower the fishing industry to share the load.