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Fisheries and the environment

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources plays an important policy role in promoting the biological, economic and social sustainability of Australian fisheries, particularly those managed by the Australian Government.

The department develops policy and prepares advice on the environmental impact of fishing activities and access to Commonwealth fish stocks consistent with their optimal use as a public resource. Areas of coverage include:

  • bycatch and protected marine species issues (including marine mammals, sharks and seabirds)
  • the interaction of fisheries management issues with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  • alignment with relevant international agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Convention on Migratory Species, Convention on Biological Diversity.

The department is also responsible for matters relating to Commonwealth Marine Reserves and the delivery of policy commitments on recreational fishing.

The department collaborates with the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy to develop and implement policies that protect and conserve marine ecosystems and biodiversity while maintaining a profitable, competitive and sustainable fishing industry. This includes contributing to the marine bioregional planning process and contributing to policy for the management of a range of marine species.

The department works with other Australian Government agencies to provide advice on proposed environment plans for offshore energy activities in Commonwealth waters, in circumstances where the activities may:

  • disrupt existing fishing activities
  • cause declines in valuable fisheries resources in the area
  • damage habitat or marine ecosystems on which valuable fisheries resources depend.

In managing Commonwealth fisheries, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) applies the principles of ecologically sustainable development and complies with the relevant sections of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

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