Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery

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

I am writing to you as the delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in regards to the Strategic Assessment of the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (MITF).

In September 2005 the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) submitted the documents, draft assessment report - Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery and the draft Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery Management Plan 2005 (the draft Management Plan), for strategic assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). In November 2005 AFMA requested that the MITF strategic assessment be based on its current management arrangements as described in the draft Management Plan, with the Management Plan, once finalised, to be submitted for assessment in the coming months. The current management arrangements contain all of the elements necessary to manage the fishery on an ecologically sustainable basis with the draft Management Plan incorporating additional provisions to provide operators with Statutory Fishing Rights.

The fishery, under its current management arrangements, has been assessed against the protected species provisions of Part 13 and wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the EPBC Act. Consideration of the accreditation under Part 10 of the EPBC Act will be undertaken at a later date once the Management Plan has been determined by AFMA.

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 determined that 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 potential for interaction with protected seabird species, that need to be addressed to contain environmental risks in the longer term. I have made a number of recommendations (at Attachment A) relating to these risks. I understand that these have been agreed to by AFMA officials and I look forward to receiving your formal endorsement of the recommendations in the near future.

I consider that, subject to the implementation of the recommendations set out in Attachment A, the MITF 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 in the mid to long term. The fishery is well managed and operates under an adaptable and precautionary regime capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fishery. I therefore propose to grant the MITF an exemption from the export requirements of Part 13A of the EPBC Act for a period of 5 years.

I propose to include product from the MITF exemption on the List of Exempt Native Specimens (LENS) so that exporters would not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery would continue to operate as an exempt fishery for 5 years and all recommendations developed through the assessment would continue to apply.

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 B).

Yours sincerely

[signed]

Andrew McNee
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

28 November 2005


Recommendations to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (MITF)

Recommendation 1   AFMA to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any material change to the MITF 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, 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 do not increase due to changes in the levels of effort, fishing capacity or methods such as additional boats entering the fishery or the use of longlines. In the event that risk levels increase or cumulative effects are detected then AFMA should develop and implement further mitigation measures as a matter of highest priority. In the event of an interaction occurring with a Critically Endangered 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 MITF that may be developed in other fisheries.