Managing Australian fisheries

The Australian Government ensures Commonwealth fisheries are managed sustainably for the benefit of all Australians.

The Australian Government manages commercial fisheries within the Australian Fishing Zone (which generally extends from three to 200 nautical miles off the coast), as well as the activities of Australian-flagged fishing vessels operating on the high seas.

The Australian Government also cooperates internationally through regional fisheries management organisations, on the management of internationally straddling and highly migratory stocks. For more information on Australia’s fisheries management and international cooperation see the department’s illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and international fisheries pages.

Within Australian waters, the Commonwealth and the states and the Northern Territory have established arrangements, known as offshore constitutional settlement (OCS) arrangements, defining fisheries management responsibilities for commercial fisheries. In some fisheries off northern and western Australia the responsibility for management is jointly managed by Joint Authorities with representation by the Commonwealth and variously the Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia and the Torres Strait Regional Authority

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is responsible for the day-to-day management and compliance of Commonwealth fisheries.

The Commonwealth has generally limited its jurisdiction to commercial fishing, with the state/Northern Territory governments assuming responsibility for recreational fishing.

The Australian Government is committed to the sustainable use of fisheries resources and the conservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Commonwealth fisheries management considers both the biological and economic consequences of fishing, including the effects on the broader marine environment.

Key commercial stocks in Commonwealth fisheries are managed under the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines. The policy applies an evidence–based, precautionary approach to setting catch levels to ensure that fisheries provide maximum economic returns while maintaining stocks at sustainable levels.