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The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is the statutory authority responsible for the efficient management of Commonwealth fishery resources on behalf of the Australian community. AFMA manages fisheries on the high seas, within the 200 nautical mile Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) and, in some cases, by agreement with the States (Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland) to the low water mark. In doing so, AFMA provides management, advisory, compliance and licensing services and implements appropriate fisheries management arrangements.

Note: Several state agencies in Australia maintain their own VMS programmes. These include South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Fisheries monitored by VMS

  • Vessels licensed to land orange roughy in the area of the South East Fishery
    Vessels licensed in Western Deepwater trawl fisheries
  • All catcher, carrier and processor boats in the Northern Prawn Fishery
    Licensed Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery boats
  • Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery boats licensed to use pelagic longlines
  • Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery boats licensed to use pelagic longlines
  • South-East Non-trawl boats that have activated the VMS trigger or wish to fish for quota species outside the AFZ
  • Vessels licensed in the East Coast Deepwater Trawl Fishery
  • Vessels licensed in the Coral Sea Fishery (other than aquarium boats)
  • All foreign licensed vessels must carry and operate an ALC (shipboard VMS unit) of a type approved by AFMA

Number of vessels monitored by VMS
Total approximately 500 (This number is variable as vessels move on and off permits).

Vessel size range
Variable from small scallop boats (10 m) to large deep sea trawl vessels (approximately 85 m).

Purpose of VMS monitoring

  • Monitoring closed areas
  • Ensuring vessels fish within the area for which they are licensed
  • Daylight setting
  • Quota monitoring
  • Targeting operations

Security measures
Control centre: Physical and electronic measures

Legal framework
Fisheries Management Act 1991 and associated regulations

Funding strategy
Vessel pays for equipment purchase, installation and maintenance. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority pays for polling and advisory or enforcement messages sent to vessels. Fifty percent of these costs are recovered from industry through the levy base.

Staffing level
2 full time (working in both VMS and fisheries intelligence)

Additional integrated programmes

  • Days at sea
  • Electronic logbooks (at-sea catch reporting of species of interest)
  • Area closures based on Total Allowable Catch
  • Spatial analysis of catch
    VMS compliance prior to permit issuance and renewal

Anticipated growth
To approximately 800 vessels (most of the Commonwealth fleet) over next five years



Richard Bland, Senior Compliance Officer - Intelligence
Compliance Operations
Australian Fisheries Management Authority
PO Box 7051
BC ACT 2610
Telephone: (+61) 26 272 5298
Fax: (+61) 26 272 5784
Telephone: (+61) 41 846 8134 (mobile)
send an email
Web site: http://www.afma.gov.au/default.htm

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