New South Wales Ocean Trawl Fishery - Ministerial decision November 2005

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate for the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 28 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 Ocean Trawl Fishery (OTF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The current export exemption for the OTF expires on 1 December 2005. The NSW 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 OTF was to be determined by 30 June 2005. As the FMS for the OTF has yet to be determined, DEH undertook an assessment of the current operation of the OTF against the criteria of the EPBC Act, to provide for continued export approval for the OTF after 1 December 2005.

Given the public admission by DPI in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the OTF that 'The EIS has concluded that the existing operation of the fishery is not ecologically sustainable' and DEH's concerns regarding excessive levels of both active and latent effort in the fishery and the fact that a number of target and key secondary species are classified as 'growth overfished', I am not in a position to make a long term decision in relation to the OTF 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 OTF 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 FMS for the OTF is close to finalisation. DEH has undertaken a preliminary analysis of the draft documentation regarding the FMS, and I am advised that the new management responses outlined in the FMS will assist the OTF in better meeting the requirements of the EPBC Act. DEH will be able to make an assessment of the new management arrangements of the OTF brought into force by your approval of the FMS.

I look forward to being advised by DPI of the determination of the FMS for the OTF 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 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 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. Within 3 months, DPI to implement management arrangements to improve the ecological sustainability of the Ocean Trawl Fishery.
  4. DPI to report on progress in implementing revised management arrangements for the Ocean Trawl Fishery to DEH by 27 January 2006.