Review of the Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines

On 27 May 2013, the then Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) released the:

The review report, including its conclusions, is a report of the outcomes of a review of the policy and its guidelines conducted by the department with the assistance of relevant government organisations and a stakeholder advisory committee. It does not reflect current government policy but rather is expected to inform the preparation of a revised Commonwealth harvest strategy policy statement and updated guidelines. It is anticipated that a revised policy statement would be a matter for further public consultation.

Overall the review found that harvest strategy policy is widely regarded as having been a very successful initiative for improving the management of Commonwealth fisheries and remains a strong foundation for Commonwealth fisheries management. The review also found that the policy and guidelines meet or exceed the standards of relevant international obligations and continue to represent best practice in most respects.

As fisheries management and science continues to develop, some aspects of the policy and guidelines could be further refined and updated to reflect these developments.

A technical review of the science that underpin harvest strategies and international best practice harvest strategy settings was also undertaken to support the review, as was a review of harvest strategy implementation.

Stakeholder consultation

The department led the review in consultation with a stakeholder advisory committee that included representation from the commercial and recreational fishing sectors, environmental non–government organisations, CSIRO, government and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

The department also developed a discussion paper for public consultation, as part of the review process. The discussion paper was released in November 2012 for a 6 week public consultation period although submissions were received and accepted until 11 January 2013.

The discussion paper, submissions to the review and a stakeholder consultation report summarising the issues raised in stakeholder submissions are available on the stakeholder consultation page.

Technical and implementation reviews

A technical review of the science and economics that underpin the harvest strategy policy and harvest strategy settings was completed with funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the department.

ABARES summarised the various technical reviews that are listed below, along with other relevant research, such as management strategy evaluation and risk-based approaches to data-poor species. The technical overview highlights key conclusions that are relevant to the policy review.

CSIRO and ABARES reviewed technical issues associated with the science and economics that underpin the policy and guidelines.

The review of the science underpinning the harvest strategy policy and guidelines by CSIRO considered matters such as:

  • reference points appropriate to life–history characteristics
  • buffered targets and meta–rules
  • data poor fisheries and tiered harvest strategies
  • total allowable catch (TAC) setting and multi–year TACs
  • rebuilding strategies and TACs for bycatch–only species
  • spatial management and meta–rules.

The technical review of economic issues considered how the harvest strategy policy’s maximum economic returns objective can be operationalised across Commonwealth fisheries. It outlines key economic definitions and concepts, and the general experiences and challenges in operationalising maximum economic yield in Commonwealth fisheries. It then draws on the literature to list the potential options that are available to improve the way in which Commonwealth fishery management meets the intent of the policy. 

These scientific papers were independently peer reviewed.

ABARES conducted a review of risk-based approaches, reference points and decisions rules for managing fisheries bycatch and byproduct species to support both this review, and the review of the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch.

ABARES also reviewed the implementation of the policy across Commonwealth fisheries, jointly managed and international fisheries. This included case studies of harvest strategies in seven Commonwealth fisheries and an international fishery. The report describes changes in economic performance and biological status to which the implementation of harvest strategies is likely to have contributed. It also proposes criteria that might be used to measure the policy’s performance in the future.

The department also engaged the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security to conduct a desktop literature study and review of international best practice in fisheries harvest strategy policy approaches.

More information

The review was overseen by a steering committee comprising senior officials from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, the then Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences and the then Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Sustainable Resource Management Division.

Terms of reference for the review were released in March 2012.

It is expected that the current harvest strategy policy will continue to apply until such time that an updated policy may be endorsed in the future.

Other Relevant Documents

Haddon, M. (ed.) (2012) Reducing Uncertainty in Stock Status: Harvest Strategy Testing, Evaluation, and Development  PDF [857 KB]. General Discussion and Summary. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.

Sainsbury, K. 2008. Best Practice Reference Points for Australian Fisheries  PDF [1.2 MB] Report R2001/0999 to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and the Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra.

Skirtun, M & Vieira, S 2012, Understanding the drivers of profitability in Commonwealth fisheries, ABARES technical report 12.4 Canberra, November.

Stephan, M and Vieira, S 2013, Productivity analysis of key Commonwealth fisheries, Technical report 13.09, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, December.

Fishery Status Reports, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.


*These publications were not prepared by the department and may not meet Australian Government accessibility guidelines. If you require an accessible version of the publication, please contact its author.