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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) provides a modern legislative framework that builds on our current legislation and Western Australia’s internationally recognised approach to fisheries management. 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, however key management frameworks from the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 are retained and carried over into the new legislation. For example, existing fishery management plans will continue following ARMA implementation.  

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 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. 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. 

Application of the Managed Aquatic Resource (MAR) Framework 

ARMA will provide an additional tool in the form of a new legislated management approach for aquatic resources. 

Under 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. 

The management of the Pinctada maxima pearl oyster resource must transition to the new Managed Aquatic Resource framework upon ARMA commencement, as the management arrangements under the Pearling Act are repealed by ARMA. 

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 for other aquatic resources will be determined through negotiations between Government and fishing stakeholders. 

Update to implementation date 

The Minister for Fisheries has recently been consulting with and listening to peak representative bodies regarding implementation of ARMA. 

As a result of these discussions, the need to develop a common understanding of ARMA and its management implications amongst peak sector bodies prior to implementation has been identified. Therefore, DPIRD will no longer be pursuing an ARMA implementation date of 1 November 2023. 

At the Minister’s request, DPIRD staff will convene a workshop with sector bodies to allow for parties to gain a common understanding of ARMA principles, operational implications and policy/system requirements. The outcome of the workshop will be a key consideration for the Minister in determining the new timeframe for ARMA implementation.  

ARMA updates

Aquatic Resource Management Act Update - Issue 1​

Aquatic Resource Management Act Update - Issue 2​

Aquatic Resource Management Act Update - Issue 3​​

Further Information 

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

Draft Policy: ARMA-Based Harvest Strategy Policy​

Frequently asked questions: ARMA frequently asked questions April 23​​


Last modified: 20/07/2023 2:52 PM

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