82nd AFMA commission meeting – Chairman’s Summary

The Commission convened for its 82nd meeting in Canberra on 15-16 March 2022.

Annual Public Meeting

Stakeholders and the general public were invited to participate in the Commission’s Annual Public Meeting on the first day of the Commission meeting. A number of stakeholders joined in the meeting via videoconference.

AFMA CEO, Mr Wez Norris, delivered a presentation which included AFMA’s legislated objectives and a snapshot of the organisation; the status of those fisheries for which fisheries AFMA has management responsibility; the impact of climate change; AFMA’s national and international compliance, enforcement and engagement programs; independent monitoring; the impact of COVID-19; and, a discussion about AFMA’s outlook.

The attendees then had the opportunity to ask questions of the Commissioners.

The Commission then returned to its formal meeting and discussed several topics, including:

  • The challenges faced in rebuilding the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) stocks and the complexities that climate change has created in managing this fishery.
  • Recent international and local events impacting fuel prices.
  • The reports received from industry associations, which included Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association (ASBTIA), Tuna Australia, Northern Prawn Fishery Industry Association (NPFIA), and the Great Australian Bight Industry Association (GABIA).
  • A significant increase in illegal foreign fishing vessels that has not been seen in over 15 years. There have been over 300 interceptions so far this financial year. AFMA is keeping relevant departmental secretaries and ministers informed of this issue. Action is being taken to enhance water enforcement efforts and initiatives to tackle the problem at its source are being worked on in conjunction with AFMA’s counterparts.

The Commission considered and agreed on actions for fishery management items including:

  1. Small Pelagic Fishery Total Allowable Catch limits and the Overcatch and Undercatch Limits – determining the total allowable catch (TAC), undercatch and overcatch amounts, and determined amounts for the 2022/23 season. Under the Small Pelagic Fishery Management Plan 2009, AFMA must determine a TAC for each quota species for a sub-area of the fishery and for a season before the start of the season. The Commission noted six SPF stocks remain at the same tier of the SPF Harvest Strategy with consistent Recommended Biological Catches as the previous season, and the TAC for one stock, redbait east, was based on an updated Daily Egg Production Model, which raised the stock from Tier 2 to Tier 1.
  2. Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Total Allowable Catch for Non-Quota Species – Common Hagfish) – determining the total allowable catch Limits for the 2022/2023 fishing season. The Commission agreed to maintain management arrangements for the 2022/23 fishing season, however noted that the sustainability of the fishery remains uncertain due to the paucity of data, and ongoing improved data collection is required.
  3. Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery Fishing Season and the Overcatch and Undercatch limits – determining the fishing season and the overcatch and undercatch limits and determined amounts. The fishing season is required to be determined by the AFMA Commission under the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery Management Plan 2005. The fishing season is now set for the next ten years. The overcatch and undercatch limits and determined amounts must be determined by the Commission once the season has commenced.

The Commission appointed members to the Great Australian Bight, Southern Bluefin Tuna and South East Management Advisory Committees (GABMAC, SBTMAC and SEMAC) for the period 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2025.

The Commission took note of the 77th meeting of the AFMA Research Committee (ARC) and approved its revised Terms of Reference.

The Commission will next meet in Canberra on 11-12 May 2022, followed by a meeting in Darwin on 29-30 June 2022.

Helen Kroger


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