New South Wales Ocean Trap and Line Fishery - Ministerial decision 2005

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate for the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 29 November 2005

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

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as the Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage regarding the assessment of the New South Wales (NSW) Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (OTLF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The current export exemption for the OTLF expires on 1 December 2005. The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) advised the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) in February 2005 that the Fishery Management Strategy (FMS) for the OTLF was to be determined by 29 October 2005. As the FMS for the OTLF has yet to be determined, DEH undertook an assessment of the current operation of the OTLF against the criteria of the EPBC Act, to provide for continued export approval for the OTLF after 1 December 2005.

The submission provided by DPI to DEH on the current management arrangements for the fishery indicated significant risks that existing operations in the OTLF pose to both target and non-target species and other ecological components of fishery, in particular the excessive levels of both active and latent effort in the fishery, the number of target and key secondary species classified as overfished and continuing impacts on Grey Nurse Sharks and possibly Great White Sharks. Given the absence of robust management measures in place to mitigate these and other risks to the fishery, I am not in a position to make a long term decision in relation to the OTLF as currently managed.

I am satisfied that, subject to the implementation of the conditions set out in Attachment A, the current management of the fishery is such that it complies with the requirements of the EPBC Act sufficiently to be declared an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) for a short term period of 3 months. Please note that the WTO declaration is subject to the conditions at Attachment A and that, if any condition is not met, the Minister is compelled under the EPBC Act to revoke the declaration.

I have also decided to include product from the OTLF WTO 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 3 month period of the declaration and all WTO conditions would continue to apply.

I am advised that the full Environmental Impact Statement for the OTLF, including a draft FMS and a formal Species Impact Statement for Grey Nurse Shark, could be available for public exhibition by the end of 2005. DEH will be able to make an assessment of the proposed new management arrangements of the OTLF once these documents are available and provided to DEH.

I look forward to being advised by DPI of the further development and implementation of more ecologically sustainable management arrangements for the OTLF 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

29 November 2005

Attachment A

Conditions on the Wildlife Trade Operation Declaration for the New South Wales Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (OTLF)

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the management regime in force under the New South Wales Fisheries Management Act 1994.
  2. The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any material change to the OTLF's management arrangements that could negatively affect the assessment of the fishery against the criteria of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
  3. Within 3 months, DPI to implement management arrangements that will improve the ecological sustainability of the OTLF. In particular, these management arrangements should include provision to:
    1. cap the level of catch and effort for primary and key secondary species across the fishery at precautionary levels and develop a process to determine and review ecologically sustainable catch and effort limits;
    2. develop interim recovery strategies for all primary and key secondary species in the OTLF classified as growth or recruitment overfished; and
    3. develop and implement an ongoing process to more effectively monitor the frequency, location and type of Grey Nurse Shark interactions in the fishery.
  4. Within 3 months, DPI to implement further measures to prevent the catch and mortality of Grey Nurse Sharks. These measures will address, among other issues, the impacts of hook and line gear in Critical Habitat and Grey Nurse Shark aggregation sites and the need for spatial buffer zones to enhance protection.
  5. DPI to report on progress in implementing revised management arrangements for the OTLF to DEH by 27 January 2006.