Ian Cresswell, Delegate for the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 15 November 2004
The Hon Henry Palaszczuk MLA
Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
GPO Box 46
Brisbane QLD 4001
I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the Queensland Marine Specimen Shell Collection Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In May 2004 the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) submitted the document entitled Ecological Assessment of Queensland's Marine Specimen Shell Collection Fishery for assessment under the 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.
I am pleased to advise that assessment of the fishery is now complete. The assessment report will be available on the Department of the Environment and Heritage website at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/assessment/index.html.
I am satisfied that the management arrangements for the fishery 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 Queensland Marine Specimen Shell Collection Fishery meet the requirements of Part 13 of the Act and I propose to accredit the management arrangements accordingly. 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.
I am satisfied that for the purposes of the wildlife trade provisions in part 13A of the EPBC Act, the management arrangements provide the basis for the fishery to be managed in an ecologically sustainable way.
I therefore propose to amend the list of exempt native specimens, to include specimens that are or are derived from fish taken in the Queensland Marine Specimen Shell Collection Fishery, excluding specimens that are listed under Part 13 of the EPBC Act, for a period of five years. Such listing will serve to exempt the fishery from the export controls of the EPBC Act, providing the fishery continues not to involve the export of specimens listed on the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.
The management arrangements for the fishery meet the Australian Government's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The fishery is well managed under a comprehensive, adaptable, precautionary and ecologically based regime capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fishery. The combination of management arrangements, data gathering, proposed research and nature of the fishery allows confidence that the fishery managers will maintain low bycatch levels, minimise interaction with protected species and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.
While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that the DPI&F is addressing them adequately. Officers from our two departments have discussed key areas requiring ongoing attention. I understand that they have agreed to a number of recommended actions, focusing on ensuring the continuation of good management practices, to be implemented before the next Australian Government review of the fishery. These recommendations, attached to the letter, have been an important factor in my decision to exempt the fishery and I look forward to receiving your confirmation that they will be implemented.
I would like to thank you for the constructive way in which your officials have approached this assessment.
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
15 November 2004
Recommendations to the DPI&F on the ecologically sustainable management of the Queensland Marine Specimen Shell Collection Fishery
The Queensland Marine Specimen Shell Collection Fishery is a well-managed fishery with a range of significant management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery. These measures include:
- Limited entry;
- Possession limits, including limits on the number of live specimens able to be taken for any one species;
- Spatial closures; and
- Benign harvesting methods that limit the potential for the fishery to impact on the wider ecosystem.
The following recommendations have been made to further strengthen the effectiveness of the management arrangements for the fishery and minimise environmental risks in the medium to longer term. DPI&F should action these recommendations before the next review in 2009.
- DPI&F to inform DEH of any intended amendments to the management arrangements that may affect sustainability of the target species or negatively impact on protected species or the ecosystem.
- By December 2005, DPI&F to develop fishery specific objectives linked to performance indicators and performance measures for species representative of those listed in Groups 1-3 (Appendix 1 of the report - Ecological Assessment of Queensland's Marine Specimen Shell Collection Fishery July 2004) including, but not necessarily limited to, most commonly caught species in the fishery.
- DPI&F to monitor the status of the fishery in relation to the performance measures, once developed. Within 3 months of becoming aware of a performance measure not being met, DPI&F to finalise a clear timetable for the implementation of appropriate management responses.
- DPI&F to conduct, within 12 months, a compliance risk assessment to determine the most effective use of resources and to specify the measures needed to ensure adequate compliance with the management regime. Within two years, DPI&F to develop and implement a compliance strategy for the fishery that includes clear management actions to address compliance risks.
- From 2005, DPI&F to report publicly on the status of the fishery on an annual basis, including explicit reporting against each performance measure, once developed.
- DPI&F to review the research information needs and priorities to meet the management information and performance measurement needs of the fishery. Analysis of research needs should take into account any gaps in the basic biological parameters required for the ecologically sustainable management of specimen shell species. DPI&F to develop a research strategy to address identified priority areas and explore ways to cooperatively share in or take advantage of research done in other specimen shell fisheries.
- DPI&F to ensure that reliable estimates of recreational harvest of specimen shells are obtained and factored into the assessment and management of the MSSCF.