Meeting of Fisheries Ministers

29 April 2016

Ministers and senior officials from Australian, state and Northern Territory governments have met today in Melbourne for the second Australian Fisheries Ministers Meeting. Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, chaired the meeting.

The Australian Fisheries Ministers Meeting provides an opportunity for governments to explore new ideas, work towards streamlined fisheries management arrangements to reduce regulatory burden to Australia’s fishing and aquaculture industries and to consider and support the interests of commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers.

The meeting discussed a range of priority issues facing Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors nationally:

  • Ministers recognised the importance of progressing national emergency response arrangements for aquatic animal diseases following the recent outbreak of pacific oyster mortality syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania, and Penaeus monodon mortality syndrome affecting tiger prawn farms in the Bundaberg region of Queensland. Ministers also noted that preparedness activities are a crucial part of managing biosecurity risk. Ministers discussed the need to strengthen the message to industry about the benefits to taking a proactive approach to biosecurity preparedness and response.
  • Ministers agreed that decisions around managing fisheries and fishing vessels should continue to be based on the best available evidence, noting economic, environmental and social considerations.
  • Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the aquaculture and fisheries initiatives in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, and welcomed the progress towards a National Aquaculture Strategy to be released later this year.
  • Ministers heard from the Productivity Commissioner, Melinda Cilento, on progress of the inquiry into the regulation of marine fisheries and aquaculture and recognised the opportunity it presents for reviewing the current regulatory arrangements in place for these sectors, including the importance of effective offshore constitutional settlement arrangements.
  • Ministers welcomed progress on a range of initiatives in place across jurisdictions to promote recognition and opportunities for Indigenous fishers. Ministers reaffirmed their intent to continue supporting these initiatives in their own jurisdictions.
  • Ministers recognised the benefits of a coordinated approach to surveying the Australian recreational fishing sector. Ministers agreed to task a working group under the Australian Fisheries Management Forum to explore opportunities to harmonise and share recreational fishing information across jurisdictions, identifying management priorities and developing long-term data collection approaches.  The Australian Government will progress implementation of a national recreational fishing survey focussing on socio-economic data.
  • Ministers considered the merits of surveying the recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna (SBT) to better inform the stock status of the species. The Australian Government expects to undertake this survey over the 2017-18 SBT fishing season and looks forward to the relevant states assisting the Commonwealth to facilitate the survey. The survey will be accompanied by a community engagement strategy that explains the role of the survey.  
  • Ministers welcomed the 2015-2020 National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy. The Strategy, coordinated by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, aims to improve the focus and effectiveness of research, development and extension in support of Australia’s fishing and aquaculture industries over the next five years.

The first Australian Fisheries Ministers Meeting was held in December 2014 and provided a valuable opportunity for jurisdictions to engage on issues important to Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture sector. Ministers expressed their commitment to continue meeting as necessary to ensure that key issues relating to the fisheries and aquaculture sectors continue to be managed collaboratively across governments.