New and Exploratory Fisheries in the CCAMLR Region

Ministerial Decision
28 November 2005

The Hon Tony Rundle
Chairman
Australian Fisheries Management Authority
PO Box 7051
CANBERRA BUSINESS CENTRE ACT 2610

Dear Mr Rundle

On 3 November 2005 the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) submitted the draft document, assessment report - New and Exploratory Fisheries in the CCAMLR Region (NEF-CCAMLRR), for strategic assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). AFMA also submitted on 23 November 2005 the New and Exploratory Fisheries in the CCAMLR Region Statement of Management Arrangements 2005 (the management arrangements) as part of this strategic assessment.

The fishery has been strategically assessed against the Australian Government's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries for the Strategic Assessment purposes of Part 10 of the EPBC Act. The fishery was also assessed in accordance with the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the EPBC Act, and to determine whether the fishery should be accredited for the purposes of the protected species provisions of Part 13 of the EPBC Act.

I am pleased to advise that assessment of the fishery is now complete. Once decisions are finalised, the assessment report will be available on the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) website through the following address: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html.

I am satisfied that AFMA has provided an adequate report on the current and likely impacts of actions taken in accordance with the management arrangements for this fishery. The assessment has identified a number of environmental risks associated with the fishery that need to be addressed in the medium term and I have made a number of recommendations (at Attachment A) relating to these risks. I understand that these have been discussed with officials in AFMA and DEH, including officers from the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), as well as with officials from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

I am satisfied that actions taken in accordance with the management arrangements are unlikely to have unacceptable or unsustainable impacts on the environment in the Commonwealth marine area. Accordingly, I have endorsed the management arrangements for the purposes of Part 10 of the EPBC Act, and propose to accredit the management arrangements for the purposes of making a declaration under section 33 of the EPBC Act in relation to actions affecting the environment in a Commonwealth marine area. I will table a notice of intent to accredit the management arrangements as soon as possible.

I am satisfied that it is unlikely that fishing operations conducted in accordance with the management arrangements of the NEF-CCAMLRR will adversely affect the conservation status of protected species, or affect the survival and recovery of listed threatened species. Accordingly, it is my view that actions provided for, and taken in accordance with, the management arrangements would not be expected to contravene the protected species provisions of the EPBC Act. I have therefore accredited the management arrangements under Part 13 of the EPBC Act. Accreditation will ensure that individual fishers operating in accordance with the management arrangements are not required to seek permits if they are at risk of killing or injuring listed species in Commonwealth waters.

I am satisfied that the operation of the fishery is consistent with the objects of the wildlife trade provisions in Part 13A of the EPBC Act. I am also satisfied that it is unlikely to be detrimental to the survival or conservation status of any taxon to which the fishery operation relates, or threaten any relevant ecosystem. The fishery is relatively well managed and operates under an adaptable and precautionary regime capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fishery. Performance against the Australian Government Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries is adequate, however there are a number of issues, in particular the need to more effectively monitor and control catch and effort in the fishery that need to be addressed to contain environmental risks in the medium to longer term.

Given the uncertainty associated with this fishery and the need to progressively implement improved management arrangements, I propose to declare the fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO), under Part 13A of the EPBC Act. I believe that a WTO declaration is in line with the developmental nature of the fishery and the precautionary management standards set by CCAMLR that call for continued classification of these fisheries as New and Exploratory until sufficient information is available to develop a robust estimate of fisheries potential yield, review impacts on dependent and related species and allow its Scientific Committee to formulate appropriate harvest catch levels, effort levels and fishing gear.

This declaration would allow the export of product from the fishery for the next three years. I will make the declaration subject to the conditions at Attachment B. I draw your attention to subsection 303FT(9) of the EPBC Act, which obliges the Minister for the Environment and Heritage to revoke a declaration of an approved WTO, if satisfied that a condition has been contravened.

I also propose to include product from this WTO fishery on the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that exporters will not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery would continue to operate as a WTO for the period of the declaration (3 years) and all WTO conditions would continue to apply.

Please note that the decisions on this assessment are still contingent on receiving your formal agreement on the recommendations made to enhance the fishery. I look forward to receiving your final response as soon as possible.

I would like to thank you for the constructive way in which your officials have approached this task and have attached for your information a copy of my advice to the Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald (Attachment C).

Yours sincerely

[signed]

Andrew McNee
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

28 November 2005


Attachment A

Recommendations to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) on the ecologically sustainable management of the New and Exploratory Fisheries in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources CCAMLR Region (NEF-CCAMLRR)

Recommendation 1 AFMA to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any material change to the NEF-CCAMLRR management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.

Recommendation 2 AFMA to identify and implement management responses to fishing impacts identified from the Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) process for the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery (HIMIF) that apply to the New and Exploratory Fisheries in the CCAMLR Region, with the timeframe for implementation commensurate with the level of risk identified by the ERA or other relevant research on target, byproduct, bycatch or protected species interactions.

Recommendation 3 AFMA to monitor interactions with protected species, in particular seabirds, to ensure that risk of interactions does not increase due to changes in the levels of effort, fishing capacity or methods such as additional boats entering the fishery or the variation of gear. In the event that risk levels increase or cumulative effects are detected AFMA should develop and implement further mitigation measures as a matter of highest priority. In the event of an interaction occurring with a threatened species then additional mitigation measures should be immediately adopted to prevent further interactions.

Recommendation 4 AFMA to continue to pursue best practice in the mitigation of interactions with protected species by monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation measures, in all sectors, and implement where relevant, any new mitigation measures in the NEF-CCAMLRR that may be developed in other fisheries.

Recommendation 5 Within 2 years, AFMA in coordination with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) to review the CCAMLR research plan and suggest improvements in data collection and research on Antarctic toothfish as the basis for future stock assessments and management arrangements.

Recommendation 6 The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), in coordination with AFMA and AAD, and other relevant government agencies, to continue to take a proactive role in CCAMLR and other relevant forums to pursue the development and implementation of cross jurisdictional measures to improve controls over illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.


Attachment B

Conditions on the Approved Wildlife Trade Declaration for the New and Exploratory Fisheries (NEF) in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Region (CCAMLR)

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the New and Exploratory Fisheries in the CCAMLRR Statement of Management Arrangements.
  2. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage of any material change to the NEF-CCAMLRR management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC Act decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
  3. Reports to be produced and presented to the Department of Environment and Heritage annually, and to include:
    • information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the New and Exploratory Fisheries in the CCAMLR Region 2005;
    • a description of the status of the fishery and catch and effort information;
    • a statement of the performance of the fishery against objectives, performance indicators and measures once developed; and
    • research undertaken or completed relevant to the fishery.