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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment
The Hon David Llewellyn, MP
19 March 2002
Tasmania's two key export fisheries, rock lobster and abalone, will be able to forge new export markets and promote existing ones after recognition that the industries are being managed sustainably.
The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Mr David Llewellyn, today announced that both fisheries were amongst the first in Australia to gain export exemptions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Dr Kemp said that only catch from fisheries that can demonstrate that they are being managed in an ecologically sustainable way may be exempted from the export controls of the EPBC Act, which are designed to ensure that trade does not threaten Australia's wildlife.
"One of the objects of the EPBC Act is to ensure that any commercial use of Australian native wildlife for the purposes of export is managed in an ecologically sustainable way," Dr Kemp said.
"In the past, all fish and other marine wildlife were exempt from this requirement but the Government changed the legislation so that the exemption would be available only to those fisheries that could show they are managed in an ecologically sustainable way.
"Tasmanian rock lobster and abalone fisheries are, with the Queensland Spanner Crab fishery, the first fisheries in Australia for which the assessment of environmental performance had been successfully completed against the Commonwealth's environmental performance guidelines.
"The Commonwealth Government has developed a range of criteria to assess the ecological sustainability of each fishery. The criteria ensure fish and other marine wildlife enjoy the same protection as other native wildlife.
"I am pleased that the assessments for these key export fisheries have now been finalised and that they show these fisheries are being managed sustainably. The approvals under the EPBC Act will provide increased certainty for fishery operators, processors and exporters, and will strengthen the environmental performance of the industry," Dr Kemp said.
Mr Llewellyn said the exemptions from Environment Australia would be a boost for both industries, whose export earnings are already worth in excess of $160 million annually to the Tasmanian economy.
"The assessment of these fisheries has shown that they are managed in an ecologically sustainable way so it is appropriate that they are rewarded for their good management," Mr Llewellyn said.
"The granting of the exemptions demonstrates that my Department's management arrangements for both fisheries are working.
"We decided from the start of this process that we would be proactive to ensure there was no threat to our important export fisheries. This recognition that the fisheries are being managed sustainably also helps to support Tasmania's clean green image.
"The exemptions will last for five years, but the accreditations for both fisheries include a number of recommendations on how to improve the demonstrated level of ecological sustainability.
"These recommendations are in line with the ongoing refinement in management for these valuable fisheries and should be easily incorporated," Mr Llewellyn said.
Dr Kemp said that all marine fisheries with export product were required to be assessed under the EPBC Act before December 2003. He said that Tasmania and Queensland were to be congratulated for submitting their major fisheries for assessment so early in the process.
"State fisheries managers and the industry have a responsibility to ensure that submissions are prepared for export fisheries well before the deadline of December next year and I encourage other States and Territories to follow Tasmania's lead," Dr Kemp said.
For more information on the ecologically sustainable use and conservation of the marine environment by commercial fisheries and aquaculture, please visit the Environment Australia web site at: http://www.ea.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/
Catherine Job (David Kemp) 02 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Andrea Davie (David Llewllyn) 03 6233 2305 or 0419 873 219