Mark Flanigan, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 7 May 2004
The Hon Bob Cameron MP
Minister for Agriculture
Level 17, 8 Nicholson St
East Melbourne VIC 3002
I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the Victorian Eel Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In March 2002 the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (then Fisheries Victoria) submitted the document Assessment of the ecological sustainability of the Victorian Eel Fishery for exemption from export controls under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and accompanying documents for assessment under the Act.
The submission has been assessed for the purposes of the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the Act.
I am pleased to advise that assessment of the fishery is now complete. The assessment report will be available on the Department of Environment and Heritage website at: www.ea.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html.
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 Victorian Eel 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 Department of Primary Industries is addressing them adequately. Officers from our two departments have discussed some 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 Commonwealth 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 and I look forward to reviewing the remainder of the Victorian managed fisheries.
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
7 May 2004