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AFMA was established under the Fisheries Administration Act 1991 in February 1992 to manage Australia’s Commonwealth fisheries and apply the provisions of the Fisheries Management Act 1991. Together, these two Acts created a statutory authority model for the day-to-day management of Commonwealth commercial fisheries.

AFMA’s portfolio department, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment retains responsibility for strategic fisheries policy advice, legislative development and leading international negotiations.

The AFMA Commission is responsible for domestic fisheries management, and the CEO, who is also a Commissioner, is responsible for foreign compliance and assisting the Commission to implement its decisions. The CEO is also responsible for assisting the Minister in managing Torres Strait Fisheries under the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984. AFMA is governed by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the Public Service Act 1999.

During the reporting period AFMA’s Minister was the Minister for Agriculture - Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie from 1 July 2019 until 2 February 2020 and the Hon David Littleproud MP was appointed the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management on 6 February 2020. Senator the Hon Jonathon Duniam was the Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries.