New South Wales Abalone Fishery - Ministerial decision 2006

Ministerial Decision
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 21 November 2006

The Hon Ian Macdonald MLC
Minister for Primary Industries
Parliament House
Macquarie St
SYDNEY NSW 2000

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as the current Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage regarding the assessment of the New South Wales (NSW) Abalone Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).  Mr Andrew McNee, as the previous Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, wrote to you on 28 November 2005 advising that he had declared the Abalone Fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) for a 12 month period until 28 November 2006, subject to a number of conditions, and also accredited the fishery under the protected species provisions of Part 13 of the EPBC Act.  At the time he noted the intention to make further decisions on the fishery once the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) had completed the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process for the fishery and brought into effect a range of new management measures to enhance the ecologically sustainable management of the Abalone Fishery.

I acknowledge your determination of 27 June 2006 under the provisions of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 that requires, as an outcome of the EIA process for the Abalone Fishery, substantial modifications to the fishery’s management arrangements to address a range of environmental impacts due to the fishery’s activities. I also note that these modifications will primarily be implemented through the Fishery Management Strategy (FMS) that was part of the Environmental Impact Statement for the fishery. The resultant measures arising from your determination of the fishery should address key risks in the fishery concerning the depleted level of stocks, potential serial depletion of local abalone populations and illegal abalone harvesting and significantly improve the ecological sustainability of the fishery in the medium to longer term. Accordingly, I have decided to extend the current WTO for the Abalone Fishery until 28 November 2008.  Please note that the WTO is subject to the conditions at Attachment A.

One of the key conditions requires the FMS to be amended in accordance with your determination of 27 June 2006 and formally approved by the end of April 2007. The FMS provides a comprehensive framework for the ongoing management of the fishery and is the key component for implementing the range of measures resulting from the EIA process to improve the ecological sustainability of the Abalone Fishery.  Therefore, I consider its finalisation should remain a high priority with NSW DPI to ensure that its measures are implemented as soon as possible.  Please note that if any WTO condition is not met, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage is compelled under the EPBC Act to revoke the WTO declaration.

The accreditation under Part 13 of the EPBC Act granted in November 2005 will continue to apply to the fishery.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that NSW DPI is committed, through the FMS and other outcomes of the EIA process, to addressing these issues and is already taking, in conjunction with industry and other stakeholders, proactive steps in some areas.  To supplement the actions arising from the EIA process, officers from our two departments have identified a range of additional issues that require action in the short term to address the key risks in the fishery and improve the ecologically sustainable management of the fishery in the short to medium term.  The conditions at Attachment A and recommendations at Attachment B have been important factors, along with the outcomes of the EIA process, in my decision to extend the duration of the WTO for 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 and look forward to your formal endorsement of the conditions and recommendations attached to the WTO extension and receiving the final version of the approved FMS for the fishery.

Yours sincerely

[signed]

Lara Musgrave
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

21 November 2006


Attachment A

Conditions on the Approved Wildlife Trade Operation Declaration for the New South Wales (NSW) Abalone Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the NSW Abalone Share Management Plan 2000 in force under the NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994.
  2. NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any material change to the Abalone Fishery management arrangements that could negatively affect the assessment of the fishery against the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 criteria, within three months of that change being made.
  3. A report to be produced and presented to DEH annually, and to include:
    1. information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress of NSW DPI, in conjunction with industry and other stakeholders, in implementing the conditions and recommendations made; and
    2. the status of the Abalone Fishery performance indicators compared to the trigger points.
  4. The Fishery Management Strategy for the NSW Abalone Fishery to be finalised and approved by the end of April 2007.
  5. NSW DPI, in conjunction with NSW Abalone Fishery stakeholders, to develop and implement within 12 months an agreed recovery strategy for abalone stocks across the fishery that defines the following:
    • precautionary recovery targets and associated timeframes;
    • specific measures to promote the rebuilding of stocks to target levels; and
    • stock and catch monitoring and compliance measures required to evaluate and enforce the recovery of depleted stocks.

Attachment B

Recommendations for the extended Wildlife Trade Operation Declaration for the New South Wales (NSW) Abalone Fishery

  1. NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to work with other abalone stakeholders to ensure that the necessary consultative and co-management arrangements, through the Abalone Fishery Management Advisory Committee or other mechanisms, continue to operate to address the management commitments of the fishery.
  2. NSW DPI, in conjunction with NSW Abalone Fishery stakeholders, to develop and commence implementing, within 6 months, scientific surveys of the status of stocks in the Region 1 of the fishery.
  3. NSW DPI, within 18 months, to develop and implement measures to improve estimates of illegal, recreational and indigenous catches of abalone for incorporation into the fishery resource assessment process.
  4. NSW DPI, in conjunction with industry, to develop and progressively implement in the next 18 months a program of finer scale management measures, including catch limits at sub-regional levels, spatially and temporally specific size limits and specific management arrangements for the closure and re-opening of areas of the fishery.
  5. NSW DPI, in cooperation with other jurisdictions, to develop more effective strategies and specific measures to quantify and reduce the extent of illegal take of abalone in NSW.