Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, September 2007

In December 2005, the then Australian Government Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation issued a ministerial direction to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) under section 91 of the Fisheries Administration Act 1991. The ministerial direction included a requirement for the development of a world's best practice harvest strategy policy for Commonwealth fisheries. The harvest strategy policy was developed to satisfy that requirement.

In September 2007 the then Australian Government released the ‘Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines’. The then minister required AFMA to implement harvest strategies in all relevant Commonwealth fisheries by January 2008.

What is the Harvest Strategy Policy?

The harvest strategy policy and associated implementation guidelines aim to ensure that key commercial fish species are managed for long–term biological sustainability and economic profitability. It also seeks to provide the fishing industry with a more certain operating environment.

The harvest strategy policy provides a framework that allows a strategic, science–based approach to setting total allowable catch levels in all Commonwealth fisheries on a fishery by fishery basis. The implementation guidelines provide practical advice on how to interpret and apply the harvest strategy policy to Australia’s fisheries and contain details of the science behind the fisheries management decisions.

Review of the Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines

On 27 May 2013, the then Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry released the final report on the review of the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines.

Overall the review found that the 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.

More information on the review of the harvest strategy policy, including the final report, is available online.

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Public Consultation on the revised Harvest Strategy Policy

Following the 2013 review, the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy is being refined and updated to capture new developments in fisheries management and science.

Although the draft revised policy does not include substantial changes to the 2007 policy, its revisions will ensure that the policy settings continue to allow the government to pursue fisheries management objectives in a way that represents world’s best practice.  The clarification provided by the changes will also help AFMA and industry to better understand and implement the policy.

The updated policy is currently open for public consultation until 9 June 2017. More information on the draft Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy​ and how to submit feedback is available online.

The technical guidelines are currently being updated by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES) in consultation with CSIRO, AFMA and the department. They will be subject to a separate consultation process.