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APPENDIX 6 Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance


AFMA's implementation of the ecological component of ecologically sustainable development is based on ecosystem elements relating to:

  • target and by-product species
  • bycatch
  • threatened, endangered and protected species
  • habitats and ecological communities.

To support and implement an ecologically sustainable development approach, we draw upon ecological risk assessments for each Commonwealth fishery. Ecological risk assessments involve a number of methods, including comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analyses. This approach screens out low risk activities, focusing on higher actual and potential risks within Commonwealth fisheries.

The results of these risk assessments for each fishery are consolidated into a priority list upon which an ecological risk management strategy is focused. A detailed ecological risk management strategy for each AFMA-managed fishery has been prepared, clearly identifying how each species or group of species will be managed.

AFMA is transitioning to a Fisheries Management Strategy reporting framework where, on a fishery by fishery basis, all of the relevant parts of our strategies and management arrangements are compiled into a comprehensive document about each fishery. These Fisheries Management Strategies documents will be used for reporting purposes.

AFMA has completed and published ecological risk management reports for all Commonwealth fisheries to address identified fishing risks. The number of species remaining at high potential risk across all Commonwealth fisheries is 100, which is 5 per cent of all species assessed. It is expected that the number of “potential high risk” fisheries will reduced in some fisheries they are reassessed under the new Ecological Risk Assessment methodology using improved information gathered through increased observer coverage and the introduction of e-monitoring. The initial three reassessments resulted in a significant reduction in the number of “potential high risk species” identified, that is, in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery from seven to one species and Small Pelagic Fisheries (Mid Water Trawl) Fishery from eight to zero species. The Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery continues to have no identified “potential high risk species”. However, recent reassessments of the Southern Shark and Scalefish Fishery has resulted in an increase in the number of potential high risk identified due to the application of new biological reference points for sharks and rays.


AFMA's outcomes are directed at Commonwealth fisheries being ecologically sustainable, improving the net economic returns from Commonwealth fisheries and managing efficiently and effectively.

This approach reflects our commitment to pursuing management of Commonwealth fisheries in accordance with our legislative objectives and in partnership with others who also have an interest in sustainable management.


All of AFMA's managed fisheries are currently accredited under three parts of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Part 10 of the Act requires that all Commonwealth and Torres Strait Fisheries must be strategically assessed before a management plan is determined (Section 148) or where a determination is made, that a management plan is not required for a Commonwealth fishery (Section 149). If a management plan is amended or replaced, or management arrangements change significantly in a fishery without a management plan, then a further assessment is required (Section 152). If a management plan remains unchanged no further strategic assessment is required. This process involves assessment of the impact of the fishery on matters of national environmental significance with particular emphasis on the impact on the Commonwealth marine environment. Without this approval a management plan cannot take effect.

Part 13 of the Act defines a number of offences in relation to listed threatened species and ecological communities, and also provides for accreditation of management plans or regimes (Sections 208A, 222A, 245, 265). The effect of accreditation is that certain actions are not offences if they are carried out in accordance with management plans or regimes. There is no requirement to remake the accreditation decisions unless the management plans or regimes change. These accreditations impose a requirement on fishers to report any interactions with protected species to AFMA through our logbooks, which we in turn provide regular reports on these interactions to the Department of the Environment and Energy on fishers' behalf, thus reducing unnecessary duplication of reporting.

Part 13A of the Act covers the international movement of wildlife specimens. It provides for controls over the movement of regulated native specimens that are not on the list of exempt native specimens. Currently products from all assessed Commonwealth fisheries are on the list of exempt native specimens, although some are subject to the condition that the listing applies only while a wildlife trade operation is in force. This allows exports of marine species to be carried out while ensuring that they have been taken sustainably.


We take an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management to minimise the impact of commercial fisheries on the marine environment. The Ecological Risk Management Policy, and accompanying Ecological Risk Management Guide, provide a science and evidence based structure for managing the impact of fishing on the marine environment. The framework uses Ecological Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fishing as the primary means of assessing the risks that fisheries may pose and provides a mechanism for the identification and management of any identified risks.

Revised methodologies in the Ecological Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fishing framework on the Small Pelagic Fishery midwater trawl sector and the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery. The results of these assessments are reported above. A further four assessments were advance during 2018-19 and another six assessments expected to be commenced during 2019-20. Further research into the identification and management of risks posed to habitats and communities was undertaken during the 2017-19, and a draft a strategy prepared during 2018-19.


A number of mechanisms exist for reviewing the effect of fishing on the environment.

AFMA reviewed its Ecological Risk Management Framework and the Commission approved the Ecological Risk Management Guide and Ecological Risk Management Policy in April and June 2017 respectively. AFMA also regularly reviews individual elements of the Ecological Risk Management Framework, with fishery management strategies and ecological risk assessments reviewed every five years.

We are also subject to reassessment of all its fisheries under Part 13A of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Department of Environment and Energy undertake the reassessments on a regular basis, ranging from a ten year review cycle for fisheries granted exemptions to a more regular review process for fisheries granted wildlife trade operations.


Consistent with our legislative objectives, AFMA promotes a clean and green operating environment when conducting its operations to minimise our impact on the environment. To achieve this we are continually reviewing our operational activities to look for opportunities to minimise waste and limit the impact of our environmental footprint.

Demonstrating this commitment, in selecting our new Canberra office, we chose an environmentally rated building that has an overall 4.5 star energy rating; the building has been engineered to include significant measures to enhance its environmental performance. The building uses tri-generation technology, black water recycling, rain water collection and solar powered hot water as well as being modelled to exceed a 4.5 star NABERS energy rating when fully occupied. The Canberra Office is certified as a 5 Star Green Star building and registered with the Green Building Council of Australia. Our Darwin office also has a 5.5 star National Australian Built Environment Rating System energy rating and a five Star Green star rating.

In addition all our offices include zoned air-conditioning and lighting and automatic light dimming in response to daylight sensors. Additionally, intermittently used rooms and spaces are motion sensor activated to reduce energy consumption. AFMA also participates in Earth Hour annually.

We currently purchase approximately 25 per cent of green electricity for our Canberra office as part of the Commonwealth energy contract, and our Thursday Island office utilises a mixture of wind and diesel power. We continue to review and implement regular energy improvements across our Canberra, Darwin, Lakes Entrance and Thursday Island sites. This has included purchasing more energy efficient equipment when required.

AFMA currently uses 100 per cent recycled paper in printers and copiers at all AFMA sites. In addition we make use of portable technology for staff to access documents via portable devices such as iPads and laptop computers to further reduce the reliance on paper documents, in line with the Commonwealth's Digital 2020 Policy. AFMA has issued mobile devices to all staff in the form of new laptop computers and associated Standard Operating Environments in line with AFMA's ICT Strategic Plan that supports and enhances our organisational capability and functionality as well as improves flexible working arrangements for our staff.

Nationwide AFMA leases four motor vehicles. We have changed our internal policy allowing staff to use our energy efficient vehicles on more extended trips. As these leases fall due for renewal we will look for more energy efficient vehicles including the utilisation of Vehicle Telematics, a comprehensive reporting suite that captures daily activity, mileage, odometer and unauthorised vehicle use.

Our continued commitment to reducing our impact on the environment also extends to reducing our staff's general office waste through implementing a composting and commingled recycling system in place for our Canberra office.