Department of the Environment

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Publications archive - Annual reports


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Department of the Environment and Heritage Annual Report 2002-03

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2003
ISSN 1441 9335

Review of performance - Outcome one: Environment (continued)

Coasts and Oceans (continued)

Fisheries Assessments

(Departmental output 1.3)


To assess the ecological sustainability of fisheries management plans and arrangements under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.


The depletion of fish stocks and the ecological sustainability of fisheries are issues of concern world wide. In response to these concerns, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act requires the assessment of fishery management arrangements to ensure that fisheries are managed in an ecologically sustainable way. All fisheries with an export component, including state-managed fisheries, are required to undergo assessment before 1 December 2003. Commonwealth-managed fisheries are required to initiate strategic assessments by July 2005, with two-thirds of those managed under the Fisheries Management Act 1991 to be initiated by July 2003. This target was met, with strategic assessments initiated for three-quarters of these fisheries.

During 2002-03, assessments were completed for 11 fisheries (one Commonwealth-managed and ten state-managed), bringing the total to 15. All were found to be managed in an ecologically sustainable way. Recommendations were made to ensure that the management of these fisheries continues to improve. Product from nine of the fisheries is to be included on the list of exempt native species, meaning that it will be exempt from the export controls of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for five years. Exemption was not considered appropriate for the remaining two fisheries because of longer-term concerns. These fisheries were declared approved Wildlife Trade Operations for periods of three years. Product from these fisheries will be able to be exported under permits while certain conditions are met. Around 50 other fisheries were under active assessment during 2002-03. The assessments considered impacts on target species, bycatch, protected species and the whole ecosystem.

The assessment process has identified substantial gains for all parties - management arrangements are being increasingly designed with environmental consequences in mind; community confidence in fisheries is increasing; and there is greater certainty for the fishing industry and its long-term future.

The completed assessments have highlighted the value to industry of management arrangements that are capable of adjusting quickly to environmental concerns, including avoiding overfishing.

Environmental issues associated with recreational fishing were also addressed by the provision of funds to RecFish Australia to support the employment of an environment project officer. The RecFish Environment Officer continued building a strong profile both within the recreational fishing industry and with the community. The project has significant value in providing the recreational fishing industry with information on methods to minimise adverse impact on the environment. The development of the National Environment Strategy for RecFish Australia has provided impetus for recreational sector-led change towards ecologically sustainable development. The environment officer has also linked previously disparate groups, organisations, individuals and government agencies and provided the single and only point of contact directly linking the Australian Government environment and fisheries portfolios with Australia's recreational and sport fishers.