Mick Trimmer, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 23 May 2005
The Hon Jon Ford MLC
Minister for Fisheries
11th Floor Dumas House
2 Havelock Street
West Perth WA 6005
I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the Western Australian Specimen Shell Managed Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). In March 2005 the Department of Fisheries, Western Australia (DFWA) submitted the document entitled Final Application to Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage on the Specimen Shell Managed Fishery for assessment under 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.
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: www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/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 Western Australian Specimen Shell Managed Fishery meet the requirements of Part 13 of the EPBC 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 Western Australian Specimen Shell Managed 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 under 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 Western Australian Specimen Shell Managed Fishery is a small scale low impact fishery that is appropriately precautionary. The combination of management arrangements, seasonal closures, and the benign 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 DFWA 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, at Attachment A, 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
23 May 2005
Recommendations to the Department of Fisheries Western Australia (DFWA) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Western Australian Specimen Shell Managed Fishery
The Western Australian Specimen Shell Managed Fishery is a well-managed fishery with a range of management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery. These measures include:
- limited entry;
- harvesting restricted to hand collection;
- gear restrictions; and
- restricted fishing areas.
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. DFWA should action these recommendations before the next review in 2010.
- DFWA to advise DEH of any material change to the SSMF's management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC Act decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
- DFWA to ensure, where appropriate, that any relevant conservation and recreational interests in the fishery are considered through consultative mechanisms.
- The ESD Report, including all performance measures, responses and information requirements to be incorporated into the management regime and decision making process.
- DFWA, in its Annual State of the Fisheries Report, to report on the performance of the fishery against performance measures that relate to the sustainability of the fishery, once developed.
- Within 18 months, DFWA to develop precautionary performance indicators and performance measures, linked to the existing objectives, for high-risk target species based on the best available information.
- Within two years, DFWA to develop and implement a compliance strategy which includes clear management actions to address compliance risks identified in the 2003 compliance risk assessment undertaken for the SSMF.
- DFWA to implement the recording of specimen shell status (alive/dead) in logbook returns.
- DFWA 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. DFWA 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.
- Within 6 months DFWA to undertake and document:
- a risk assessment to assess the likely extent and impact of the recreational and 'shamature' harvest of specimen shells in Western Australia and factor results of this assessment into the future management of the SSMF; and
- a recreational shell collecting data workshop to assess the data needs, economic availability of data and funding required to provide reliable estimates of the recreational harvest of specimen shells in Western Australia.