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Enforcement gets Tougher with New Fisheries Laws

Sustainability Politics +2 more

AUSTRALIA - A Bill passed by the House of Representatives last week will, if it becomes law, strengthen the compliance powers of the Commonwealth fisheries regulator. The Bill has now been referred to the Senate.

Lucy Towers thumbnail

Amendments to the Fisheries Management Act 1991 strengthen the ability of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to hold licence holders liable for the actions of their crew.

The new legislation also includes amendments to support the use of electronic monitoring on fishing boats for data collection and compliance purposes.

Earlier this year an investigation by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities led to seven fishermen being convicted in the Port Lincoln Magistrate Court for crimes associated with the illegal fishing of Southern Bluefin Tuna, the shooting of protected seabirds and littering at sea. The fishermen were fined a total of $22,000.

AFMA General Manager Operations Peter Venslovas said that this was an example of the worst behaviour that AFMA has dealt with recently.

While AFMA does not suggest that the licence holder was at fault in this particular case, the case does highlight the importance of making crews aware of what the laws are, Mr Venslovas said.

It is important that the law requires a high level of due diligence on the part of licence holders who employ people to fish, and that the law clearly states what AFMA expects of licence holders.

The seabird shooting incident appeared to be isolated in an industry that is highly professional and well regarded but all skippers and crews should be aware that illegal and cruel actions will be picked up through AFMAs monitoring and will not be treated lightly.