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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 fishers. Alignment of our stakeholder expectations through the use of broad engagement systems and shared objectives ensures accountability to stakeholders and the broader Australian community.


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. 236 and in AFMA's Corporate Plan for 2019-22 p. 15.

Performance criteria





Industry cost recovery charges do not exceed the levels derived by increasing the 2005-06 recoveries by the Consumer Price Index each year

<$19.0 million

$14.3 million


Communications subscribers via afma.gov.au

  • Media releases
  • News article






Communications Facebook

  • Likes7
  • Followers8






AFMA Twitter

  • New account to be set up in 2019-20

Focus for social media for 2019-20 has been Facebook

7Likes or fans are the people who choose to follow AFMA’s Facebook page, and content published by AFMA may appear in their Facebook news feed.

8Followers may or may not be fans, and content published by AFMA may appear in their Facebook news feed.

Methods for measuring performance:

  1. Industry cost recovery measure is calculated using 2005-06 total cost recoveries and adding CPI adjustments.
  2. Communications measures are calculated using reporting functions including, Google Analytics, SurveyMonkey, MailChimp and Facebook.


Cost Recovery

By maintaining close consideration of fisher 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:


In 2019-20 AFMA successfully completed the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) funded e-fish: An Integrated data capture and sharing project.

Recognising the challenges experienced by fisheries data users in maximising the value of fisheries data holdings, the project explored how a fisheries management agency could better meet the demands of the Australian community and fisheries stakeholders to readily access and use fisheries data.

The e-fish project was a successful collaborative approach to understand the perspectives of multiple data user types in each of the Australian fisheries jurisdictions with key insights gained into current data systems, data sharing and usage, challenges and suggestions for improvement that can be implemented across fisheries agencies. The analysis undertaken in the e-fish project highlighted the importance of increasing the availability, integration, use and confidence in fisheries data as an essential tool for effective data-driven decision making.

The e-fish project produced key IT-based recommendations, validated through proof of concept testing, that are well suited to the fisheries operating environment and would support the functionality and flexibility needed by fisheries agencies.

AFMA is now considering the recommendations of the report as part of a broader roadmap for enhancing its data and information framework and outcomes and builds on the successes realised through the Agency Data Capture (ADC) project (see Feature Story on page 40). As the lead on the e-fish project, AFMA will be working to widely distribute the findings of the project across fisheries agencies so they too can consider the recommendations in future data architecture planning and investment. The e-fish project marks a significant step towards making the full value of fisheries data accessible to the Australian community and fisheries stakeholders.

The final e-fish project report is available on the FRDC website at: https://www.frdc.com.au/project/2018-026

Data collection and exchange

In line with AFMA’s ICT Strategic Plan, we have successfully delivered the “Agency Data Capture Project (ADC): Phase 2” project. This project was designed and implemented to extend AFMA’s business data sharing and exchange capabilities internal and external to the agency, through the use of modern and standardised technology, primarily Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The ADC project is a genuine digital transformational project and more specifically APIs are a widely adopted modern technology which are being utilised significantly across Australian Government agencies, an approach which is in line with the Australian Governments Digital Strategy.

The ADC Phase 2 project was delivered successfully releasing several APIs and the back-end infrastructure built off cloud technology, now allows AFMA to integrate with various third party stakeholders with ease to share and exchange data. The project proved the concept by releasing APIs in support of receiving digital logbooks for the Line Fishing Method, replacing AFMAs current legacy system for this Line method. The APIs and infrastructure have also been implemented for the Prawn, Gillnet, Boat Seine and Trawl Fishing logbook methods, to start trialling this service later in 2020.

In addition to the logbook implementation, the project has completed the delivery of the Catch Disposal Record exchange channel through the same mechanisms, which will commence trials in the latter parts of 2020. The new system builds on AFMAs current digital submission capabilities and provides enhancements for AFMA stakeholders through an improved design which better allows vendors to connect and use an AFMA system and includes data validation on submission automatically.

The ADC project was developed to be an enterprise wide data sharing platform, and through the project AFMA integrated with other partners including the vessel monitoring provider Trackwell and the Department of Home Affairs. These connections demonstrated the simplicity of utilising modern and standardised technology to readily share and consume data.

The submission of data through the new data capture platform will streamline internally how AFMA can process the volume of data it collects, vastly reducing the manual administrative overheads associated with data capture and entry. The more uptake of the ADC platform across Commonwealth fisheries will start to see opportunities for AFMA to refocus its resourcing efforts from data entry to data analytics, further building on the high level of service already offered by allowing more proactivity and anticipating the needs of our stakeholders.

Co-management arrangements

The Northern Prawn Fishery industry works closely with AFMA and cooperates through formal co-management arrangements to assist with a range of key management functions. For example, the industry manages the collection and provision of catch and effort information, the quality control of the information and its dissemination to all users. We also entered into a formal co-management arrangement with the South-East trawl fishery industry, which saw the formation of the Seine and Trawl Advisory Group. This Group will provide advice to AFMA on operational aspects of the Commonwealth Trawl Sector to better inform fisheries management decisions. These co-management measures add value to the management of the fishery and are cost effective for industry and AFMA. They increase stewardship outcomes in the fishery and provide valuable information which will enhance future management decisions. AFMA also entered into a co-management arrangement with Tuna Australia for the first time in 2019-20 to collect data in the Eastern and Western Tuna and Billfish Fisheries.

AFMA and the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) continued delivering co-management services for a range of key management issues. SETFIA is the key industry body representing the Commonwealth Trawl and the East Coast Deepwater Trawl sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The co-management partnership delivered efficient catch management arrangements for eastern pink ling and snapper, and funded an industry-led project investigating seal mitigation technology for trawl boats. The inaugural meeting of the Seine and Trawl Advisory Group was held in the port of San Remo, Victoria. It is anticipated future co-management arrangements with SETFIA will expand industry functions and support AFMA delivering efficient and sustainable fisheries management in a sustainable manner.


AFMA ensures accountability to our stakeholders by proactively engaging with Commonwealth 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 2019–20 this included the formal and informal initiatives detailed below.

Stakeholder engagement

During 2019-20, AFMA developed and finalised the First People Acknowledgement Guide. The guide has been designed to assist staff, AFMA Commissioners and AFMA Chairs and members of advisory committees, in understanding our approach and expectations with regard to the recognition aspects of Indigenous affairs.

It draws on similar guidance developed by the Department of Defence, Australian Public Service Commission and Reconciliation Australia.

The guide is not designed to be comprehensive and will evolve as AFMA further develops its engagement and acknowledgement of Australia’s First Nations Peoples. With regional offices in the Torres Strait, Darwin and Lakes Entrance and our home office in Canberra, AFMA has connections with a broad range of Australia’s First Nations Peoples. This guide sets out how, when developing policies, programs and services, AFMA will acknowledge the knowledge and contribution of First Nations Peoples. The approach ensures that our work is delivered with respect and sensitivity to the experiences and perspectives of First Nations Peoples.

As well as providing guidance for the use of Acknowledgement and Welcome to Country, the guide includes information on key ceremonial and commemorative dates and where relevant, how AFMA celebrates these events.

Public consultation

AFMA engaged in formal public consultation on policy and fisheries management changes during 2019-20, including the Fisheries Management Paper 5 Exploration of Fish Resources

In addition to public consultation, comments were also sought from Management Advisory Committees (MACs) and Resource Assessment Groups (RAGs), the Commonwealth Fisheries Association, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Engaging with the public and promoting Australian seafood

AFMA has run a number of social campaigns including ‘What’s my scientific name?’ and the ‘#putfishonyourdish’ Christmas campaign to promote sustainable Australian seafood and the work of the Australian seafood industry. AFMA actively engaged with industry stakeholders to share the campaign and encourage voting on their key target species. Statistics indicated a good level of engagement for both campaigns from a range of stakeholders (industry, recreational fishers and general public).

“What’s my scientific name” campaign Facebook @AustralianFisheriesManagementAuthority Picture of tropical rock lobster
“What’s my scientific name” campaign Facebook @AustralianFisheriesManagementAuthority

‘#putfishonyourdish’ Christmas campaign Facebook @AustralianFisheriesManagementAuthority Picture of yellowfin tuna and Patagonian toothfish meals
‘#putfishonyourdish’ Christmas campaign Facebook @AustralianFisheriesManagementAuthority
Engagement throughout COVID-19

We also focused on providing updates to Commonwealth fishing industry regarding disruptions to our business operations through to operating practices during COVID-19 by creating a designated section on the AFMA website for pandemic related updates. Key information was also distributed through phone calls, emails, letters, SMS and through AFMA’s Facebook channel.

Engagement channels

Our online systems such as GoFish, 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 2019 Stakeholder Survey indicated that the main source of news/media from AFMA was AFMA news emails (1158 subscribers), followed by the website and then social media – see Figure 1 below.

Month Users Page views Session Duration seconds Jul-19 18182 42384 95.38 Aug-19 19163 45660 108.00 Sep-19 19125 43827 103.00 Oct-19 19759 46398 101.00 Nov-19 20057 48708 99.00 Dec-19 20125 29508 73.00 Jan-20 18791 40915 123.00 Feb-20 16820 39690 95.00 Mar-20 17463 41664 117.00 Apr-20 20012 43988 138.00 May-20 22856 51306 104.00 Jun-20 22104 48300 98.00
Figure 1: AFMA website traffic performance July 2019 - June 2020
We also continued 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 2019-20 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 client service complaints were received by AFMA during 2019-20.

Feature Story: Agency Data Capture -

In 2019-20 AFMA undertook the ADC project to improve the quality and exchange of fisheries data and enable AFMA to deliver more digital services to the Commonwealth fishing industry.

The project modernised AFMA’s data sharing capabilities through the use of APIs, aligning AFMA with the Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Strategy.

ADC enables AFMA to extend the use of digital logbooks to more fishers. Receiving data digitally improves data quality and enables its timely use in decision making as well as deriving cost efficiencies for the fishing industry. ADC is also being trialled for digital catch disposal records (CDRs). Digitising CDRs will allow verified catch information to be integrated into AFMA’s databases faster, simplifying data sharing and enhancing decision making.

ADC was developed as an agency wide data sharing platform, allowing AFMA to integrate with external partners, such as our vessel monitoring system provider and other government agencies. The platform will provide seamless data sharing opportunities in the future with other services, including scientific research, meeting our reporting obligations under international bodies, such as regional fisheries management organisations, and finally contributing towards whole of government initiatives.

AFMA will continue to invest in expanding this platform to streamline the collection and collation of all fisheries management data, enabling AFMA to continue making cost effective management decisions based on near real-time data.

The ADC platform presents an opportunity for AFMA to refocus resourcing efforts from data entry to areas such as data analytics. Further building on the high level of service already offered, the platform allows more proactivity in decision making and anticipating the needs of our stakeholders.

This digital transformation will see AFMA continue to enhance our services in regard to the effective and efficient management and monitoring of commercial Commonwealth and Torres Strait fishing, ensuring Australian fish stocks and our fishing industry are viable now and in the future.

Sharing Fisheries Data Photo courtesy Bruce Miller Alamy Stock Photo picture of fisherman on boat using laptop to record data
Sharing Fisheries Data Photo courtesy Bruce Miller Alamy Stock Photo