Fifth Meeting of Fisheries Ministers

15 February 2019, Melbourne

Australia’s Fisheries Ministers met today in Melbourne for the fifth time to reaffirm their commitment to the sustainable management of our aquatic and marine resources to share best practice approaches to advancing the health of our fish stocks.

Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, who chaired the meeting as the Australian Government’s Assistant Minister with responsibility for fisheries, complimented the spirit of collaboration across jurisdictions and noted the benefits of ministers engaging early in tackling shared problems in our aquatic and marine environment.

Ministers focussed on a number of key developments and issues for Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors including:

  • Aquatic animal welfare – Ministers considered welfare and best-practice treatment and handling of both wild-capture and aquaculture fish stocks. Ministers discussed potential approaches to address aquatic animal welfare considerations.
  • Darling River Fish Deaths – Ministers noted an update from NSW and Commonwealth officials responding to recent fish deaths in the Darling River. The NSW “Fish Death Interim Investigation Report” for the Lower Darling River fish death events in 2018/19 was tabled.
  • Opera House Nets – Ministers noted Victoria’s intention to ban the use of opera house nets in all waterways from 1 July 2019 to reduce mortality of platypus and other native fauna.
  • Indigenous Fisheries Initiatives – Ministers discussed the range of Indigenous fisheries initiatives being pursued by jurisdictions to progress recognition and opportunities for Indigenous fishing. Ministers reaffirmed the importance of increasing the participation of Indigenous people in fishing businesses, respecting cultural fishing and improving Indigenous engagement and involvement in fisheries management.
  • Ministers noted:
    • Outcomes of recent meetings of the National Fisheries Advisory Council and the National Recreational Fishing Council
    • The release of the revised Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy and Bycatch Policies
    • Progress on the Southern Bluefin Tuna recreational survey
    • The release of the National Plan of Action for Minimising the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Australian Capture Fisheries in October 2018
    • Assistance to fishers to support transition to the new Australian marine park management arrangements which commenced on 1 July 2018
    • Developments on aquaculture in Commonwealth waters
    • Progress in transitioning Commonwealth and State/Northern Territory joint managed fisheries to single jurisdiction management
    • Progress on the National Recreational Fishing Survey to better understand demographics and economics of recreational fishing
  • National Carp Control Plan – Ministers noted the extension of the delivery of the plan to December 2019, and agreed to continue their contribution to the comprehensive and coordinated assessment of a biological control strategy.
  • OceanWatch Master Fisherman Program - Ministers noted this program is being adopted in some jurisdictions to help fishers raise the standard of responsible fishing practices and demonstrate best-practice sustainable fishing to coastal communities and seafood consumers.
  • Marine Biosecurity - Ministers noted the importance of ongoing implementation of ballast water regulations which will strengthen biosecurity arrangements and reduce ballast water risks in the states and territories; the ongoing development of a proposal on vessel biofouling requirements; and progress towards developing and Aquatic Deed for emergency responses to aquatic animal diseases. Ministers recognised the importance of streamlined and coordinated responses to biosecurity threats and noted this was an area for collaborative work.
  • International developments in Seafood Trade - Ministers undertook to work cooperatively to address importing country requirements for the export of Australian seafood.
  • Ministers noted the World Fisheries Congress will be held in Adelaide, South Australia in 2020, which will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase Australia’s seafood industries, including the world’s best practice fisheries management and scientific assessment processes used throughout Australia.

Australian Fisheries Ministers ordinarily meet once per year with the next meeting scheduled for early 2020.