The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has announced that it will be expanding its presence in Lakes Entrance by opening a regional office in early 2018.
AFMA, in conjunction with SETFIA, has been trialling a full time Liaison officer based in Lakes Entrance since 2015, working directly with South East Trawl operators on a daily basis. This arrangement has proven to be very successful in facilitating collaboration between industry and AFMA on key projects aimed at reducing bycatch of protected species, running bycatch education programs, and rolling-out of electronic logbook reporting.
The new regional office is anticipated to build on this work and will see AFMA undertaking both fisheries management and compliance functions from Lakes Entrance. Initially, AFMA is planning to have about six staff members based in the Lakes Entrance office.
In making the announcement, AFMA’s Chief Executive Officer Dr James Findlay explained that “AFMA works together with the commercial and recreational fishing industries, scientists and environmental stakeholders to help ensure that current and future generations have a healthy supply of Australian seafood.” Given Lakes Entrance is one of AFMA’s largest fishing ports with vessels and industry representatives from the trawl, gillnet, scallop, squid, small pelagic and line fisheries all residing there or using the port throughout the year, “the expansion makes good business sense for both AFMA and Industry,” Dr Findlay said.
The partial relocation of AFMA from Canberra will also have the added benefit of creating employment opportunities in regional communities such as Lakes Entrance.
AFMA is the independent statutory authority responsible for the management of Commonwealth fisheries and currently has offices in Canberra, Darwin and Thursday Island. See AFMA’s website for more information on the management of Commonwealth fisheries.