28 November 2005
The Hon Tony Rundle
Australian Fisheries Management Authority
PO Box 7051
CANBERRA BUSINESS CENTRE ACT 2610
Dear Mr Rundle
I am writing to you as the delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in regards to the Strategic Assessment of the Informally Managed Fishing Permits (IMFP).
In October 2005 the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) submitted the document assessment report - Informally managed fishing permits, for strategic assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).
The submission has been assessed for the purposes of the protected species provisions of Part 13 and the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the EPBC Act. As no formal Statement of Management Arrangements was submitted for the IMFP, consideration of the accreditation of the management arrangements against Part 10 of the EPBC Act is not possible at this time.
The assessment of the IMFP raised significant concerns in relation to the lack of management arrangements, such as precautionary harvest limits, and fishery specific management objectives, performance measures and indicators. The lack of monitoring of the target stocks and bycatch levels and the potential for interactions with protected species in the IMFP were also of concern. I recognise however that an export decision is required before the deadline of 1 December 2005 to ensure that product derived from the IMFP can be exported.
I consider that, subject to the implementation of the conditions set out in Attachment A, the IMFP is unlikely to be detrimental to the survival or conservation status of any taxon to which the fishery operation relates, or threaten any relevant ecosystem in the short term. Hence I propose to declare the fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) under Part 13A of the EPBC Act. This declaration would allow the export of product from the fishery for the next 12 months. The declaration is subject to the conditions set out in Attachment A. Please note that if any condition is not met, the Minister is compelled to revoke the WTO decision.
I propose to include product from the IMFP WTO on the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that exporters would not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery would continue to operate as a WTO for the period of the declaration (12 months) and all WTO conditions would continue to apply.
I am satisfied that the management arrangements for the fishery currently require that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that protected species are not injured or killed and the level of interactions with such species in the fishery is not likely to adversely affect the conservation status of protected species or the survival and recovery of listed threatened species. Hence, the management arrangements for the IMFP meet the requirements of Part 13 of the EPBC Act and I propose to accredit the management arrangements. Accreditation will ensure that individual fishers operating in accordance with the management arrangements are not required to seek permits in relation to interactions with protected species in Commonwealth waters.
DEH will be able to make an assessment of the new management arrangements for the IMFP once they are brought into force in 12 months time.
I look forward to being advised by AFMA of the formalisation of management arrangements for the IMFP and making new decisions regarding the export approval of these permits. I trust that you will ensure that industry participants are made aware of the status of export approval and the requirements for the continuation of the export of product from the IMFP.
I would like to thank you for the constructive way in which your officials have approached this task and have attached for your information a copy of my advice to the Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald (Attachment B).
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
29 November 2005