In March 2019 the Fisheries Management Regulations 2019 were made and assented to by the Governor-General. The new regulations replaced the Fisheries Management Regulations 1992, which are due to sunset on 1 October 2019. The new regulations prescribe a number of important administrative matters concerning the operation and regulation of fisheries under Commonwealth jurisdiction. AFMA, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and other agencies, reviewed and updated the content of the regulations to remove redundant provisions, improve their drafting and resolve minor legal issues. We also used this opportunity to make regulatory improvements, such as those suggested by industry including the introduction of a system by which concession holders can place a caveat over the transfer of their concession for the benefit of a third party interest holder. Industry advice was that this would improve the loan value ratios offered by financial institutions for fishing concessions and improve funding arrangements for fisheries operations. The caveat system implemented in the regulations has been in place since March 2019.
We ensure accountability to our stakeholders by proactively engaging with scientists, commercial fishers and fishing associations, researchers, environment and conservation organisations, other Australian Government, territory and state agencies, and recreational and Indigenous fishers about our management of Commonwealth fisheries and compliance activities. In 2018-19 this included the formal and informal initiatives detailed below.
Work is continuing with the recreational sector to increase their membership on AFMA's Management Advisory Committees and Resource Assessment Groups. Regular meetings with Management Advisory Committees and Resource Assessment Groups continued to be a key source of information and advice for us and our decision-making Commission.
We engaged in formal public consultation on a number of policy and fisheries management changes, including:
- draft Transhipping Policy
- social aspects of Ecological Sustainable Development
- review of the Gillnet Dolphin Mitigation Strategy and the Small Pelagic Fishery Dolphin Mitigation Strategy
- Torres Strait western line closure
- Beche de Mer Fishery
- Tropical rock lobster instrument amendments.
In addition to public consultation, we also sought comments from Management Advisory Committees and Resource Assessment Groups, the Commonwealth Fisheries Association, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Environment and Energy.
We produced a number of videos to better inform these entities of our role and responsibilities. These videos explained how we work with the Commonwealth commercial fishing industry delivering a sustainable and profitable fishing industry which in turn provides healthy, fresh seafood nationally and internationally. Some key videos produced included:
- AIS, VMS and float free EPIRBs – produced in cooperation with Walker Seafoods and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
- Barge day in the turquoise top end – produced in cooperation with Austral Fisheries.
- Electronic monitoring on Commonwealth fishing vessels – produced in cooperation with Shane Dugins, from the Gillnet Hook and Trap Sector, in Lakes Entrance.
Our online systems such as GoFish and Vessel Monitoring System, electronic messaging, port visits, public and issue-specific meetings, both in Australia and overseas, and participation and attendance at the Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference, have also provided valuable avenues for engagement with a broad range of stakeholders.
The official opening of our Lakes Entrance office and our presence at the Hooked on Lakes Entrance event saw increased engagement both with industry and the broader community.
AFMA's website, www.afma.gov.au, was migrated to GovCMS Drupal, the content management platform managed by the Department of Finance. The look and feel of the site was updated to make it more accessible, bringing it more in line with Australian Government guidelines to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The new website has been well received, with improved functionality that has increased the number of users and achieved a greater reach, see Figure 1: AFMA.gov.au site traffic.
AFMA website traffic performance July 18-June 19
We also continue to publish raw, aggregated fishing gear and effort data on data.gov.au, to make it publicly available, and to encourage stakeholders to fully utilise data collected by the agency.
Client service charter
Our Client Service Charter sets out the services and standards that all clients or stakeholders can expect from us. It applies to all of our fisheries administration and corporate services functions, including our licensing function. Our service charter is available on our website afma.gov.au.
We use our licensing system, GoFish, to record the timeliness of responses for licensing transactions. During 2018-19 more than 99 per cent of licensing correspondence and transactions submitted by concession holders were dealt with in accordance with our Client Services Charter.
No formal complaints were received by AFMA during the reporting period.