New South Wales Abalone Fishery - Ministerial decision 2005

Ministerial Decision
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 28 November 2005

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

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the New South Wales (NSW) Abalone Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) advised the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) in February 2005 that the Fishery Management Strategy (FMS) for the NSW Abalone Fishery would be determined prior to 1 December 2005. In September 2005 NSW DPI submitted the documents entitled Abalone Fishery: Environmental Impact Statement Vol 1, 2 and 3.

As the FMS for the Abalone Fishery has yet to be determined, DEH undertook an assessment of the current operation of the Abalone Fishery against the criteria of the EPBC Act, to provide for continued export approval for the Abalone Fishery after 1 December 2005. The submission has been assessed for the purposes of the protected species provisions of Part 13 and the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the EPBC Act.

The assessment of the fishery was based primarily on the FMS contained within the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) provided by NSW DPI. The FMS has not yet been finalised or formally implemented into the management arrangements of the fishery and requires modification to ensure the ongoing ecologically sustainable management of the fishery. I recognise however, that an export decision is required before the deadline of 1 December 2005 if product derived from the fishery is to be exported.

I consider that, subject to the implementation of conditions set out in Attachment A, the NSW Abalone Fishery 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 short term. Hence, I propose to declare the fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO), under Part 13A of the EPBC Act. This declaration would allow the export of product from the fishery for the next 12 months. The declaration is subject to the conditions set out in Attachment A. Please note that if any condition is not met, the Minister is compelled to revoke the WTO decision.

I propose to include product from this WTO fishery on the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that exporters would not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery would continue to operate as a WTO for the period of the declaration (12 months) and all WTO conditions would continue to apply.

I am satisfied that the management arrangements for the fishery currently require that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that protected species are not injured or killed and the level of interactions with such species in the fishery is not likely to adversely affect the conservation status of protected species or the survival and recovery of listed threatened species. Hence, the management arrangements for the NSW Abalone Fishery meet the requirements of Part 13 of the EPBC Act and I propose to accredit the management arrangements. Accreditation will ensure that individual fishers operating in accordance with the management arrangements are not required to seek permits in relation to interactions with protected species in Commonwealth waters.

DEH will be able to make an assessment of the new management arrangements for the Abalone Fishery once they are brought into force by your approval of the FMS.

I look forward to being advised by NSW DPI of the determination of the FMS for the Abalone Fishery and making new decisions regarding the export approval of this fishery. I trust that you will ensure that industry participants are made aware of the status of export approval for this fishery and the requirements for the continuation of the export of product from the fishery.

Yours sincerely

[signed]

ANDREW MCNEE
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

28 November 2005


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 DPI will advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any material change to the NSW Abalone Fishery's 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. NSW DPI, in conjunction with NSW Abalone Fishery stakeholders, will conduct, within 12 months, reviews of the current abalone stock status across all zones of the fishery, as a sound basis for determining appropriate management measures to maintain stocks across the fishery at ecologically sustainable levels.
  4. NSW DPI, in conjunction with NSW Abalone Fishery stakeholders, will develop and implement, commencing within the next 12 months, a suite of management measures to address localised and serial depletion of abalone stocks across the fishery.
  5. NSW DPI, in conjunction with NSW Abalone Fishery stakeholders, will develop, within 12 months, a recovery strategy for abalone stocks across all zones of the fishery. The recovery strategy will address appropriate monitoring measures and management responses and proposed timelines for recovery of overfished and depleted stocks.
  6. NSW DPI will ensure a comprehensive risk assessment is prepared and considered prior to the development and implementation of any restocking programs in the fishery. A commitment to a consultation process with all interested stakeholders in the fishery will be included as a part of this process.
  7. NSW DPI to ensure the Fishery Management Strategy for the NSW Abalone fishery incorporates appropriate performance indicators and trigger points to monitor regional abalone catch.