Go to top of page

2. Maximum net economic returns to the Australian community from the management of Commonwealth fisheries


The Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines provide an essential management framework for AFMA’s Commonwealth fisheries. Commonwealth fishery harvest strategies for key commercial stocks guide the setting of total allowable catches and other catch limits. By pursuing targets of maximum economic yield (or proxy), where available, net economic returns should be improved.

AFMA has also continued to develop and better understand the impacts of management policies to improve the net economic returns from Commonwealth fisheries. In 2019–20, AFMA:

  • Refined and investigated use of economic information including trading prices of gear and statutory fishing rights (SFRs)
  • Reviewed Fisheries Management Paper number 5 – exploration of fish resources
  • Continued work with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in the development of a Commonwealth resource sharing policy.


Criteria source: The performance indicators below are recorded in AFMA's chapter in the Agriculture, Water and the Environment 2019-20 Portfolio Budget Statements p. 235 and in AFMA's Corporate Plan for 2019-22 p. 10.

Performance criteria





For economically significant stocks:

a) maximise the number of key commercial stocks with harvest strategy targets3 based on maximum economic yield or the best available proxy.

At least 15 (stocks)


b) improve the number of stocks in a) above assessed as being on economic target. (number of stocks)



c) for those stocks in a) above that are assessed as not on target, increase the number of stocks that are heading towards their target reference point4. (number of stocks)




Major fisheries have harvest strategies that meet the Harvest Strategy Policy 2018 (HSP2018) within 3 years (number of fisheries)




Other fisheries have harvest strategies that meet the HSP2018 within 4 years (number of fisheries)



3Harvest strategy targets are defined as the desired fishing mortality or biomass of the stock (or proxy).

4Note: it may take an extended period of years for ongoing and concerted management actions to deliver positive stock status improvements. In the interim period, target stock numbers will remain at the same level.

52020-21 target = 8

62020-21 target = 4

Methods for measuring performance:

  1. The method for estimating these KPIs was recommended by ABARES in its 2015 review of AFMA’s economic KPIs. The KPI assesses key commercial stocks (as defined in the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy 2018) in AFMA’s major fisheries (those with Statutory Fisheries Management Plans). One year forecasts are based on fishery manager expertise and stock assessments. Please note that not all Commonwealth fish stocks can be managed by maximum economic yield, for example, those managed under international regional bodies or when managed to more appropriate targets for the stock (e.g. ecological targets).
  2. Where higher and lower value species are caught together, different targets for the lower value species may maximise net economic returns over all.
  3. A range of work is underway to update major fishery and other fisheries to comply with the new Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy. Full compliance and updating these strategies are depending on a number of research projects and support work to inform the development of the new HSP.


Noting that two stocks (Broadbill swordfish and Striped marlin) in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery are currently having their harvest strategies revised and updated, the key commercial stocks that have maximum economic yield targets are:

  • 11 stocks – Bight redfish, Blue eye trevalla, Blue grenadier, Deepwater flathead, Eastern school whiting, Gummy shark, Orange roughy Eastern, Pink ling-east, Pink ling-west, School shark, Tiger flathead (Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery)
  • Three stocks – Banana, Endeavour and Tiger prawns (Northern Prawn Fishery).

The four stocks “on target” are: Deepwater flathead, Eastern school whiting, Tiger flathead (all Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery) and Tiger prawn (brown and grooved) (Northern Prawn Fishery).

The four stocks that were assessed as heading towards the target are: Blue eye trevalla, Gummy shark, Orange roughy eastern and Pink ling-east (all Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery).

The remaining six stocks that were assessed as not on target and not heading towards target are: Bight redfish, Blue grenadier, Endeavour prawn, Pink ling – west, School shark (uncertain) and Banana prawn (no assessment available).

Work is well underway to update harvest strategies to ensure key commercial fish species are sustainably managed to maximise net economic returns to the Australian community consistent with the 2018 updated Harvest Strategy Policy. A number of major fisheries updates are reliant on separate research, which is due for completion in 2020-21.

Broadbill swordfish and Striped marlin harvest strategies have been updated and are currently being reviewed by relevant consultative committees. Two of the smaller fisheries have completed updates of their Harvest Strategy, consistent with the new policy.

Though there are six stocks assessed as not on target and not heading towards target, this is a measure of whether the economic potential is being maximised rather than an indicator of the sustainability of those stocks.

Work continued on finalising a suite of high level economic key performance indicators to monitor the economic performance of our fisheries as well as developing indicators to monitor economic factors that are driving changes in fisheries.

A final draft of the exploratory fishing policy (FMP 5) was released for public comment in 2019 and is currently awaiting resumption of face-to-face Management Advisory Committee meetings for comment prior to provision to the AFMA Commission for approval. A key aim of the updated policy is to provide guidance to industry and decision makers regarding access to underutilised Commonwealth fisheries resources.