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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Aquatic Resources Management Act

Over the last 50 years, Western Australia has built a reputation for first-class fisheries and aquatic resource management. This reputation has been built on a solid legislative foundation that has allowed our management approach to evolve according to the changing needs of the community.

With increasing changes to our environment, population growth and greater competition for aquatic resources, new legislation will provide new tools to help meet these challenges.

The Aquatic Resources Management Act 2016 (ARMA) will replace the existing Fish Resources Management Act 1994 (FRMA) and the Pearling Act 1990 (Pearling Act) to become the primary legislation used to manage fisheries and aquatic resources in WA from 1 November 2023

ARMA has the following objects; 

  1. to ensure the ecological sustainability of the State’s aquatic resources and aquatic ecosystems  for the benefit of present and future generations; and
  2. to ensure that the State’s aquatic resources are managed, developed and used having regard to the economic, social and other benefits that the aquatic resources may provide.

ARMA will provide an additional tool in the form of a new legislated management approach for aquatic resources. It also includes new aquatic biosecurity powers which will be used in conjunction with other relevant legislation to strengthen our capacity to prevent and deal with aquatic pests and diseases. 

ARMA is underpinned by a broad resource-based approach to managing fishing activity which takes into account the impact of all sectors and a risk-based approach to decision making. 

Under the new management framework available under ARMA (called the Managed Aquatic Resource framework), customary fishing and public benefit uses of aquatic resources are recognised as having priority over other uses. However, the legislation also provides greater security of access to commercial and recreational fishers. Strengthening access rights for all sectors enhances stewardship over the resource which in turn incentivises sustainable fishing practices. 

Commercial and Recreational Fishing when ARMA commences

With the exception of pearling, there will be no change to commercial and recreational fishing rules as a direct result of ARMA’s commencement. 

There will be some changes relevant to holders of Fish Processor’s Licences and Aquaculture Licences. These licence holders will be contacted directly regarding the changes. 

Pearling

The reason that commercial and recreational fishing arrangements will be largely unaffected by ARMA implementation is that ARMA recognises and preserves arrangements under the current FRMA. However, this is not the case with respect to the Pearling Act. This means that management of the Pinctada maxima pearl oyster resource must transition to the new Managed Aquatic Resource framework. 

Considerable work is being undertaken by the Department and the pearling industry to develop the various documents and legal instruments to enable the transition to occur.

The Minister for Fisheries declared pearl oysters as a managed aquatic resource under ARMA on the 25 November 2022​.

Part of the transition process will include the opportunity for the public to comment on a draft Aquatic Resource Management Strategy for the pearl oyster resource. This policy document will include information on the main objective for managing the resource, how it is allocated amongst user groups and the harvest strategy to ensure sustainable management. 

Application of the MAR Framework beyond pearling

ARMA does not mandate a shift to the MAR except where a risk assessment requested by the Minister indicates that an aquatic resource faces a risk to sustainability. This means that in most cases the decision as to whether or not to shift to the MAR framework will be determined through negotiations between Government and fishing stakeholders. 

The Department will work with peak sector representative bodies to ascertain which aquatic resources would most benefit from shifting to the MAR and priority resources for transition. 

Further Information 

Draft Policy: Objective Setting and Allocations for Aquatic Resources Under ARMA

Draft Policy: ARMA-Based Harvest Strategy Policy​

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Last modified: 19/12/2022 11:41 AM

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The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at www.fish.wa.gov.au.