Ian Campbell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 11 February 2003
The Hon Kim Chance MLC
Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
11th Floor, Dumas House
2 Havelock Street
WEST PERTH WA 6005
In November 2001 the Western Australian Department of Fisheries (WADF) submitted the document Application to Department of the Environment and Heritage for the Shark Bay Prawn Fishery Against the Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries for Continued Listing on Section 303DB of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The submission has been assessed in accordance with 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 DEH website at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html.
I am satisfied that it is unlikely that fishing operations conducted in accordance with the management arrangements will adversely affect the conservation status of protected species, or affect the survival and recovery of threatened species. The Shark Bay Prawn Management Plan 1993 requires 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 Shark Bay Prawn (SBP) fishery meet the requirements of Part 13 of the Act and I propose to accredit the plan accordingly. Accreditation will ensure that individual fishers operating in accordance with the plan 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 all specimens taken in the SBP fishery for a period of five years. Such listing will serve to exempt the fishery from other export controls of the Act and exempt exporters from requiring export permits under the Act.
The SBP management arrangements meet the Commonwealth Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The fishery is 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 and proposed research provides confidence in the fishery's ability to manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.
While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that DFWA is taking a proactive approach to mitigating these risks and 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, focussed on ensuring the continuation of good management practices. The recommendations for the SBP fishery are attached to this letter. I look forward to receiving your agreement in relation to the implementation of these recommendations.
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 Western Australian managed fisheries.
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
11 February 2003
Recommendations to the Western Australian Department of Fisheries on the ecologically sustainable management of the Shark Bay Prawn Fishery
- Opportunity should be provided to conservation, community, recreational fishing and world heritage area management interests to participate in the processes of the main advisory body to the WA Fisheries Minister for this fishery. DFWA should also ensure that any relevant indigenous interests are considered through appropriate consultative mechanisms.
- The ESD report, including all performance measures, responses and information requirements, should be formally incorporated into the management regime and decision making process within one year, with a clear timeframe for implementation.
- EA should be informed of any changes to the management plan or managerial commitments in the ESD report.
- The ESD report should be amended to incorporate time frames for all management responses to breaches of performance measures.
- Permitted byproduct should be limited to species currently harvested, with a robust system developed to add or remove species as appropriate. Suitable catch triggers should be developed to ensure any change in targeting behaviour can be detected and addressed as it occurs. Management responses should be clarified, with timeframes for implementation, to address such changes, so that the management arrangements are able to minimise threats to byproduct species.
- DFWA should participate in any cross-jurisdictional activities regarding relevant target and byproduct species, including squid.
- Ongoing monitoring should be implemented sufficient to identify long-term trends in bycatch between fished and unfished areas to ensure that information used in the risk assessment for the fishery remains based on accurate and current data.
- The importance of specific areas and habitats to applicable bycatch species during all stages of their life cycle should be considered when applying the results of biodiversity research to management arrangements.
- A mechanism should be developed to enable the amendment of management arrangements to respond to new information or future Government plans and policies
- All protected species interactions by commercial operations should be reported and coupled with an education program to ensure industry has the capacity to make accurate reports.