Fisheries Home

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Fisheries – supporting sustainable fishing and aquaculture industries

Australia has the world’s third largest fishing zone, extending up to 200 nautical miles out to sea. Despite this size, Australian waters tend not to be as productive as those in many regions, and Australia ranks only 52nd in the world in terms of volume of fish landed. Although the overall amount of fish products caught may be relatively low, Australia’s fisheries production focuses on high value export species such as lobsters, prawn, tuna, salmon and abalone. Australia’s commercial fishing and aquaculture industry is worth over $2 billion annually and employs around 11 600 people (7 300 directly and 4 300 indirectly) (ABARES 2011). The challenge is to promote a profitable and competitive fishing industry while ensuring the sustainability of Australia’s marine ecosystem.

Australia’s Commonwealth, state and territory governments manage fisheries on behalf of the Australian people in consultation with the fishing industry, scientists, economists and other user groups, such as those that represent traditional fishing, recreational fishing and the environmental non–government organisations. These management processes are used to implement controls, such as limits on catch or effort levels, and regulations of fishing methods in order to manage Australia’s fisheries in a sustainable way.

In very general terms, state/territory laws apply to coastal waters (up to three nautical miles) and Commonwealth laws apply from those waters out to the limit of the Australian fishing zone (200 nautical miles).However, offshore constitutional settlement (OCS) arrangements have been developed in many cases which provide jurisdiction for a particular species, area or fishing method to the Commonwealth or states/Northern Territory.

The Commonwealth has generally limited its jurisdiction to commercial fishing with the state/territory fisheries department’s assuming responsibility for recreational fishing.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is responsible for the operational management of Commonwealth fisheries. For further information regarding these fisheries visit the AFMA website.

The reviews of the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch and the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines

The Department of Agriculture led separate but coordinated reviews of the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch (2000) (bycatch policy) and the Commonwealth& Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines (2007) (harvest strategy policy). Both policies are central to the sustainability of Australia’s Commonwealth fisheries. The reviews were conducted at the same time to consider how the effects of fishing on all species might be addressed through the fisheries policy framework.

On 27 May 2013, the department released the:

The Fisheries Management Review, undertaken by Mr David Borthwick AO PSM in late 2012, has also been released: