Fisheries and the environment

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) requires the Australian Government to assess the environmental performance of fisheries and promote ecologically sustainable fisheries management.

The Sustainable Fisheries Section is responsible for the assessment of fisheries managed under Commonwealth legislation and state export fisheries in accordance with the Act.

Our primary role is to evaluate the environmental performance of fisheries, including:

  • the strategic assessment of fisheries under Part 10 of the EPBC Act;
  • assessments relating to impacts on protected marine species under Part 13; and
  • assessments for the purpose of export approval under Part 13A.

Select a state or territory

Fisheries assessments

An independent assessment of all export and all Australian Government managed fisheries is required. These assessments ensure that, over time, fisheries are managed in an ecologically sustainable way.

The assessments are conducted against the 2nd edition of the Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries (the Guidelines). The Guidelines outline specific principles and objectives designed to ensure a strategic and transparent way of evaluating the ecological sustainability of fishery management arrangements.

The assessment process is designed to incorporate a flow of communication between fishery managers and the SFS, in order to facilitate the best outcome for the fishery. Each fishery is unique, and assessment is based on the merits of the combination of management measures in place and fishery specific issues.

EPBC Act export decisions

Approval of a Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO)

Approval of a WTO is made through an instrument signed by the Minister or his delegate and published in the Gazette. The Minister or his delegate may specify that the declaration only applies during a particular period or while certain circumstances apply or while a certain condition is complied with (subsection 303FT(4)).

A declaration may be varied by specifying additional or new conditions or revoking or varying existing conditions by a subsequent instrument published in the Gazette (subsection 303FT(7)). A declaration must be revoked if the Minister is satisfied that a condition or circumstance of the declaration has been contravened (subsection 303FT(9)). A declaration may be revoked at any time. The following link lists all the current fishery wildlife trade operations.

List of Exempt Native Specimens (LENS)

The LENS provides the most recent list of specimens exempt from the export controls of the EPBC Act.

Specimens that are, or are derived from, Australian native species and are exempt from the export regulations of the Act are identified on this list. Conditions and/or limitations to the exemption are included under a column entitled 'notation'. Where there is no notation then the definition of a specimen for that particular species is taken to include the whole plant or animal and/or any parts or derivatives from it.


Permits will be required from the Department if you internationally export or import any whole, part or derivative (e.g. fillets, fins) of the following species:

  • Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini)
  • Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena)
  • Great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
  • Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus)*
  • Porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus)*
  • Manta rays (Manta spp.)*
  • Hard corals (Anthozoa and Hydrozoa species) and coral rock (Scleractinia species)
  • Giant clams (Tridacnidae species)
  • Seahorses (Hippocampus species)
  • Seadragons (Phycodurus eques or Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)

*Only imports permitted at this stage - no exports

Please note that any other EPBC Act listed threatened species or species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will also require permits.

Further information can also be obtained by contacting the Wildlife Trade Regulation Section at or on 02 6274 1900 (option 3).