Bills Digest no 90,
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Science, Technology, Environment and Resources Section
Purpose of the Bill
Selection of Bills Committee
Senate Standing Committee for the
Scrutiny of Bills
Policy position of non-government
Position of major interest groups
Statement of Compatibility with Human
Parliamentary Joint Committee on
Key issues and provisions
Date introduced: 8
and Water Resources
day after Royal Assent.
Links: The links to the Bill,
its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the
Bill’s home page, or through the Australian
When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent,
they become Acts, which can be found at the Federal Register of Legislation
All hyperlinks in this Bills Digest are correct as
at April 2017.
The purpose of the Fisheries Legislation Amendment
(Representation) Bill 2017 (the Bill) is to amend the Fisheries
Administration Act 1991 and the Fisheries
Management Act 1991 to provide for explicit recognition of recreational
and Indigenous fishers in this legislation and to require the Australian
Fisheries Management Authority to take the interests of both these fishers and
commercial fishers into account in all its decisions.
Under the Fisheries Administration Act and the Fisheries
Management Act, Commonwealth
fisheries must be managed by the Australian
Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) in an efficient and cost-effective
fashion with fishing to be carried out in a manner consistent with the
principles of ecologically sustainable development.
While the second reading speech noted that in 2015 no fish
stock managed solely by the Commonwealth was subject to overfishing, in that
year, of the 93 fish stocks managed solely or jointly by the Australian
Government, 79 fish stocks were classified as not subject to overfishing, three
were classified as subject to overfishing and 11 classified as uncertain with
regard to fishing mortality.
The value of Australia’s wild-caught fisheries was $1.6
billion in 2014-15, of which the catch of Commonwealth fisheries was valued at $350
This figure does not include southern blue-fin tuna that are caught in the
Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery and towed to mariculture
pens in South Australia where they are grown out for three to five months prior
to sale ($122 million in 2013–14).
The responsibilities of AFMA are shared between the AFMA
Commission and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Commission is responsible
for domestic fisheries management, while the CEO is responsible for foreign
compliance, for assisting the Commission and giving effect to its decisions,
and for managing the agency that supports these functions.
There are presently seven of a possible eight Commissioners (including
the Chairperson) on the Commission.
Commissioners must have expertise in one or more of: fisheries management, fishing
industry operations, science, natural resource management, economics, business
or financial management, law, and public sector administration or governance.
The present seven AFMA Commissioners have expertise in all these areas. In
order to maintain the independence of the Commission, Commissioners are not
permitted to hold an executive position in a fishing industry association and
cannot hold a Commonwealth fishing concession, licence or permit or have a
controlling interest or executive role in any entity holding a Commonwealth
fishing concession, licence or permit.
Stakeholder engagement for individual
Commonwealth fisheries is normally carried out through participation on one of
the several management advisory committees that are
established by AFMA.
Through these committees, stakeholders can discuss any problems relating to
this fishery, review scientific information and develop possible management
The committees may include representatives from AFMA, the commercial fishing industry,
scientific agencies, environmental non-government organisations, the
recreational/charter fishing sector and state governments. Committee members are
appointed on an expertise basis for up to three years, following a public
expression of interest process and recommendation to the AFMA Commission by an
The Productivity Commission recently
completed an inquiry into Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture,
submitting its final report to the Minister on 19 December 2016. The
report has yet to be tabled in Parliament. One of the inquiry’s terms of
reference relates to balancing the interests of all stakeholders in fisheries,
including the general community:
5. The extent to which fisheries management regimes align
with and protect the interests of the wider community (in particular, the
balance between commercial, recreational, indigenous fishing and conservation
interests, and consumers' interests).
Key points made in the draft report
- the impacts of recreational and indigenous customary fishing
activity are largely uncounted in Commonwealth, state and territory fishery
- there needs to be greater recognition of recreational fishing in
- there is relatively poor input from Indigenous people in fishery
management and Indigenous customary fishing should be incorporated into
fisheries management systems.
of Bills Committee
On 15 February 2017, the Senate Selection of Bills
Committee determined that the Bill would not be referred to a committee for
inquiry and report.
Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills
The Senate Standing Scrutiny of Bills Committee had no
comment on the Bill.
position of non-government parties/independents
While making no specific comments about increasing
representation of recreational and indigenous fishers on the AFMA Commission,
Joel Fitzgibbon, ALP Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has
said that a future Labor government would establish a Recreational Fishers
Council chaired by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries to give
recreational fishers ‘a seat at the decision making table’.
major interest groups
A number of bodies representing recreational and Indigenous
fishers made comments about increased representation in their submissions to
the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture.
For example, the Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body
noted that the Commonwealth fisheries legislation did not adequately recognise
recreational fishing values and the potentially adverse impacts of AFMA
decisions on recreational fishing.
The Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc. recommended that the
objectives of the Fisheries Administration Act and the Fisheries Management
Act should be amended to require AFMA to ‘have regard to the interests of
recreational and Indigenous fishers (and other users of the marine environment)’.
The Northern Land Council recommended that there should
... an appropriate engagement framework to facilitate
Aboriginal participation in fisheries management as a priority. The framework
must not only enable a dialogue on governance, participation and practical
application of fisheries management but also invest in Indigenous leadership
and community participation. The framework must be resourced to support expert
advice and research development to inform policy decisions.
The Explanatory Memorandum states that the Bill will have
no financial impact for the Commonwealth.
Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights
As required under Part 3 of the Human Rights
(Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth), the Government has assessed the
Bill’s compatibility with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared
in the international instruments listed in section 3 of that Act. The
Government considers that the Bill is compatible.
Joint Committee on Human Rights
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights found
that the Bill did not raise human rights concerns.
Section 6 of the Fisheries Administration Act
currently sets out a number of objectives that AFMA must pursue in the
performance of its functions. These include, for example, ensuring that fishing
activities are conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of
ecologically sustainable development.
Item 2 of
Schedule 1 of the Bill proposes to add an additional objective to the Fisheries
Administration Act in a new subsection 6(2), which would require AFMA to take
into account the interests of commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers
while carrying out its functions.
Subsection 3(1) of the Fisheries Management Act currently
sets out five objectives that must be pursued by the Minister in the
administration of this Act and by AFMA in the performance of its functions.
These objectives are similar to those of the Fisheries Administration Act.
Subsection 3(2) of the Fisheries Management Act sets out additional objectives
that the Minister, AFMA and Joint Authorities ‘are to have regard to’:
through proper conservation and management measures, that the living resources
of the AFZ are not endangered by over-exploitation; and
(b) achieving the optimum utilisation of the living
resources of the AFZ; and
that conservation and management measures in the AFZ and the high seas
implement Australia’s obligations under international agreements that deal with
fish stocks; and
(d) to the extent that Australia has obligations:
international law; or
(ii) under the
Compliance Agreement or any other international agreement;
in relation to fishing activities
by Australian-flagged boats on the high seas that are additional to the
obligations referred to in paragraph (c)—ensuring that Australia implements
those first-mentioned obligations;
but must ensure, as far as practicable, that measures adopted
in pursuit of those objectives must not be inconsistent with the preservation,
conservation and protection of all species of whales.
Item 12 amends these objectives in subsection 3(2) of
the Fisheries Management Act to add an additional objective requiring
the Minister, AFMA and any Joint Authorities to ensure that the interests of
commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers are taken into account.
Subsection 12(3) of the Fisheries Administration
Act currently sets out the requirements for eligibility for appointment to
the AFMA Commission. The individual must have a high level of expertise in one
or more of: fisheries management, fishing industry operations, science, natural
resource management, economics, business or financial management, law, and
public sector administration or governance.
Item 4 proposes to amend this subsection to expand
the eligibility of AFMA commissioners to include having high levels of
expertise in matters relating to recreational or Indigenous fishing. Since
there is no requirement for individuals with expertise in each of the matters to
be appointed to the Commission, it is possible that individuals with expertise
in recreational and Indigenous fishing may not necessarily be appointed as
commissioners. It should be noted that at present there are seven Commissioners
but, under the Fisheries Administration Act, it is possible to appoint one
Paragraph 12(3)(b) of the Fisheries
Administration Act currently prohibits an individual from being appointed a
Commissioner if that person holds an executive position in a fishing industry
Item 6 amends this paragraph to add a further
prohibition to ensure that no person who holds an executive position of a
fishing representative organisation can be appointed as an AFMA commissioner.
This aims to ensure that the AFMA commissioners are independent.
Items 8 and 9 relate to management advisory
committees which facilitate stakeholder involvement for many of the Commonwealth
Section 60 of the Fisheries Administration Act
currently provides that management advisory committees are composed of a
chairperson, the AFMA staff member responsible for the management of the
fishery for which the advisory committee has been established and up to seven other
Item 8 proposes to amend this section to expand the potential membership
of the committees from seven to ten (in addition to the Chairperson and AFMA
Subsection 62(3) currently requires that AFMA must try to ensure
that an advisory committee includes members who are engaged, or have experience,
in the industry in the fishery for which the committee was established.
There is no requirement for members with experience and interests outside the specific
fishing industry to be appointed.
Item 9 replaces the existing subsection 62(3) to
specify that AFMA should try to ensure that members of the committee include not
only those individuals who are engaged, or have experience, in the relevant
fishery, but also members engaged or with experience in recreational fishing in
that fishery. Some of the management advisory committees presently include recreational
fishing stakeholders while others do not have an identified recreational
Administration Act 1991, section 6; Fisheries Management
Act 1991, section 3; Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA),
‘Fisheries’, AFMA website.
reading speech: Fisheries Legislation Amendment (Representation) Bill 2017’,
Senate, Debates, 8 February 2017, p. 323; Department of
Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), Fishery
status reports 2016, research by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural
and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), Canberra, December 2016, p. 3.
fisheries and aquaculture statistics 2015, research by ABARES, Canberra,
December 2016, p. 13.
economic impact of aquaculture on the South Australian state and regional economies,
2013/14, report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, Adelaide, 5 June 2015,
‘The AFMA commission’, AFMA website.
Administration Act 1991, section 11.
Bluefin Tuna Fishery’, AFMA website.
‘Committees’, AFMA website.
Commission (PC), ‘Completed
inquiries: marine fisheries and aquaculture: terms of reference’, PC website, 23 December 2015.
fisheries and aquaculture: overview and draft recommendations, Draft
report, PC, Canberra, August 2016, p. 2.
Selection of Bills Committee, Report,
2, 2017, The Senate, 16 February 2017, p. 3.
Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, Scrutiny
digest, 2, 2017, The Senate, 15 February 2017, p. 17.
Fitzgibbon (Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), ‘Recreational
fishing announcement transcript’, media release, 18 June 2016.
Recreational Fishing Peak Body, Submission
to Productivity Commission, Inquiry into Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture,
submission no. 25, 29 March 2016, pp. 1, 3.
Association for Recreational Fishing Inc., Submission
to Productivity Commission, Inquiry into marine fisheries and aquaculture,
submission no. 42, 18 April 2016, p. 8.
Land Council, Submission
to Productivity Commission, Inquiry into Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture,
submission no. DR101, 21 October 2016, p. 8.
. Explanatory Memorandum, Fisheries Legislation
Amendment (Representation) Bill 2017, p. 3.
Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights can be found at page 4 of the
Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill.
Joint Committee on Human Rights, Report,
1, 2017, The Senate, 16 February 2017, p. 32.
Administration Act, paragraph 6(b).
Management Act, subsection 3(1).
Administration Act, paragraph 12(3)(a).
Tuna Management Advisory Committee’, AFMA website; AFMA,
‘Northern Prawn Fishery Management Advisory Committee’,
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