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Introduction

In response to the updated Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Bycatch Policy 2018, major fisheries such as the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery and the Northern Prawn Fishery are developing fisheries management strategies that include updated harvest and bycatch strategies with integrated data and research plans. Other fisheries are being reviewed and updated in accordance with timelines set out in the Harvest Strategy Policy guidelines.

During 2019-20 protected species interactions continue to remain a focus for AFMA. We are working with the South East trawl industry to develop new arrangements to minimize interactions between trawl gear and seabirds. Restrictions on discarding of biological material in high risk zones of the fishery were introduced in 2019, coupled with an exemption process that incentivised fishers to develop other ways to reduce interactions. In addition we completed a review of the dolphin mitigation strategies in the small pelagic and gillnet hook and trap fisheries to continue to minimise, avoid and respond to any interactions with dolphins.

AFMA continued to engage closely with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment-led process to develop the Commonwealth Fisheries Resource Sharing Framework. A discussion paper was released for public comment in May 2020. The consultation will inform the drafting of a framework to guide decision making and ensure equitable access among commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers to Commonwealth fisheries resources.

We also embraced further co-management opportunities with the Commonwealth fishing industry. Successful co-management may reduce regulatory burden on fishers build industry capacity and contribute to efficient and cost-effective management of the fishery.

In 2019 AFMA and Northern Prawn Fishery Industry Pty Ltd (NPFI) entered a new multiyear contract for the provision of co-management services. The new contract continues to strengthen the co-management partnership, with NPFI taking on additional responsibilities for administering the Northern Prawn Fishery Surveys in collaboration with CSIRO. In 2020 AFMA formally delegated data disclosure authorisation to the NPFI CEO to cover some fisheries related data and manage data requests on behalf of the industry. This delegation marks a milestone for AFMA and is the first such delegation between AFMA and an industry association.