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Managing Australian Fisheries
Australian fisheries are defined as those fisheries falling within the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends to 200 nautical miles from coastal baselines. To simplify jurisdiction, boundaries have been developed handing over management responsibility to the State, Northern Territory and/or Commonwealth Governments. Each State/ Northern Territory jurisdiction has responsibility for fisheries that lie within its internal waters (e.g. river, lake and estuarine fisheries) and, where applicable, adjacent fisheries within a three nautical mile boundary from the coastline. The Commonwealth has jurisdiction for fisheries that lie between 3 and 200 nautical miles of the coastline. When a particular fishery falls within two or more jurisdictions, an Offshore Constitutional Settlement (OCS) arrangement is generally developed and responsibility is passed to one jurisdiction.
Fisheries in OCS arrangements are defined in terms of species, fishing method and area. They underpin the major fishery management plans implemented under Commonwealth, state or Northern Territory laws. The OCS also forms the basis for ongoing cooperation between governments who share the management responsibilities. Alternatively, a Joint Authority may be formed whereby a fishery is co-managed through the legislation of one jurisdiction. Similarly, where a fishery crosses national boundaries, bilateral or multilateral agreements can be entered into.
In the absence of an OCS arrangement, state/ Northern Territory laws apply to coastal waters (up to 3nm) and Commonwealth laws apply from those waters out to the limit of the Australian fishing zone (200nm).
Currently fisheries OCS arrangements are in place with all states and the Northern Territory. They have been negotiated on the broad concept that localised fisheries adjacent to a state should be managed by the state, and the Commonwealth should manage fisheries occurring off more than one state or where there is involvement of foreign fishing boats.
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is responsible for the day-to-day management and compliance of Commonwealth fisheries. For further information regarding these fisheries visit the AFMA website.
The Commonwealth has generally limited its jurisdiction to commercial fishing, with the state/Northern Territory governments assuming responsibility for recreational fishing.
23 May 2011