National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development

Prepared by the Ecologically Sustainable Development Steering Committee
Endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments
December, 1992
ISBN 0 644 27253 8

Fisheries Ecosystem Management
Part 2 Sectoral Issues - Chapter 2


For fisheries management agencies throughout Australia to adopt a fisheries ecosystem management framework which will provide a more holistic and sustainable approach to management of aquatic resources.

Strategic Approach

Governments will seek to enhance the decision-making capacity of management authorities, resource users and individuals, in particular through enabling them to make decisions which are based on a knowledge of the likely consequences for the resource and the environment. Elements of a fisheries ecosystem management approach include: data collection and research on fish stocks and environmental factors to enhance management on an ecosystem basis; steps to address cross-sectoral issues between coastal management, total catchment management and fisheries management; awareness and education campaigns, for both users and the general public; and development of strategic management plans, framed within the principles of ESD, in conjunction with rationalisation of fishing capacity and over exploited fisheries.

Objective 2.1

  • to ensure that fisheries management agencies work within a framework of resource stewardship

Governments have:

  • received advice from the Australian and New Zealand Fisheries and Aquaculture Council (ANZFAC) that they will adopt a fisheries ecosystem management approach as outlined under the strategic approach above

Governments will:

  • review, and where necessary amend, fisheries legislation to ensure it provides the basis for managing the fishery resource in ways which are consistent with the principles of ESD
  • conduct a review of fishing fleet capacity by fisheries management authorities
  • examine mechanisms for addressing the prioritisation of scientific and economic research activities to help research agencies coordinate their programs and direct their scarce resources to areas of greatest importance
  • cooperatively work to resolve management boundaries between the Commonwealth and the States/Territories, and between adjoining States and Territories, on a biological/ecological basis
  • seek to involve representatives from the fisheries industry in discussions on prioritisation of research and resolution of management boundaries
  • seek to formalise international commitments covering fishing on the high seas, driftnetting, reductions in land-based sources of marine pollution, shipping standards and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
  • request the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) and ANZFAC to examine jointly current institutional arrangements in the management of the marine environment and its resources, to ensure they reflect an ecosystem approach

Objective 2.2

  • to develop national guidelines for state of the aquatic environment reporting

Governments will:

  • continue to promote initiatives such as preparation by the Commonwealth of a 'one-off' state of the marine environment report and aquatic environment reporting at the Commonwealth, State and Territory level
  • establish a joint specialist working group to identify core state of the aquatic environment indicators, including water quality, water quantity, habitat and biology, for freshwater, estuarine and marine environments. This work will be coordinated with state of the environment reporting being developed at national and regional levels
  • cooperatively develop mechanisms to address current inconsistent approaches to state of the aquatic environment reporting between jurisdictions

Objective 2.3

  • to disseminate information on the principles of ESD to fishers and the wider community

Governments will:

  • incorporate fisheries management information into any nationally-coordinated public education and information campaign on ESD
  • provide for adequate and effective input and participation by fishers and the community in the development and implementation of fisheries ecosystem management
  • distribute draft state of the aquatic reporting guidelines to all fisheries management agencies and the broader community for comment
  • undertake a user-needs analysis to identify the most appropriate and effective format for presentation of information on core aquatic environment indicators to client groups