New South Wales Ocean Trawl Fishery - Ministerial decision February 2005

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate for the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 24 February 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 Ocean Trawl Fishery (OTF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). In November 2005 I declared the OTF an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) for a 3 month period, subject to a number of conditions. This declaration expires on 28 February 2006. I also accredited the fishery under the protected species provisions of Part 13 of the EPBC Act.

Due to delays with the NSW Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, including finalisation of a Fishery Management Strategy (FMS) for the fishery, my decision in November 2005 to declare the OTF a short term WTO was based on the existing management arrangements of the fishery. It was my understanding at the time that the EIA process for the OTF would be finalised before the expiry of the WTO on 28 February 2006 and that the new management arrangements contained in the draft Fishery Management Strategy (FMS), including measures to enhance performance assessment, catch monitoring, stock assessment, bycatch reduction, gear modifications and other effort controls, would be determined and brought into force by that date.

NSW DPI has recently advised the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) that the determination of the OTF EIA outcomes has been delayed beyond the expiry of the current WTO export approval. In recognition that the EIA is close to completion and of the commitments made by NSW DPI to implement a wide range of new management measures in the new FMS to enhance the ecologically sustainable management of the fishery, I am prepared to extend the current WTO for the OTF until 30 June 2006. Please note that the WTO declaration is subject to the conditions at Attachment A.

Due to the series of delays experienced to date in finalising the EIA process for this fishery, I have some concern that further delays may prevent the timely implementation of management arrangements committed to in the new FMS to enhance ecological sustainability. Therefore, I would like to draw your attention to Condition 3 of the WTO declaration which requires the determination process for the OTF to be completed and new management arrangements arising from the fishery’s EIA to commence by 30 June 2006.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 declaration.

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

The current DEH assessment of the OTF under the EPBC Act will be concluded once the outcomes of the OTF EIA are formally determined and may result in a longer term export decision. DEH is currently consulting with NSW DPI on a range of further measures to supplement those contained in the OTF FMS to enhance the longer term ecological sustainability of the fishery.

I look forward to being advised of the determination of the OTF EIA outcomes 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

24 February 2006

Attachment A

Conditions on the Wildlife Trade Operation Declaration for the New South Wales Ocean Trawl Fishery

  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 New South Wales Ocean Trawl Fishery’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. DPI to commence implementing the management arrangements provided for in the determination for the New South Wales Ocean Trawl Fishery made under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 by 30 June 2006.
  4. DPI to report on progress with finalising and implementing the determination for the New South Wales Ocean Trawl Fishery to DEH by 28 April 2006.