New South Wales Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery - Ministerial decision 2004

Ministerial Decision
David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage

The Hon Ian Macdonald MLC
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries
Parliament House
Macquarie St
Sydney NSW 2000

Dear Minister

In February 2003, NSW Fisheries submitted the document Fishery Management Strategy Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The submission has been assessed by my Department in accordance with the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the EPBC Act.

I am pleased to advise that assessment of the fishery is now complete. The assessment report will be available on the EA website at: www.ea.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html.

I am satisfied that the operation of the fishery is consistent with objects of the wildlife trade provisions in part 13A of the EPBC Act. I am also satisfied that it is unlikely to be detrimental to the survival or conservation status of any taxon, or threaten any relevant ecosystem, to which the fishery relates. It meets most of the Commonwealth Guidelines for the ecologically sustainable management of fisheries, however many of the actions to occur in the fishery will not take place for many years, and some will only occur as resources and priorities dictate.

As the fishery uses trawl gear, there is potential risk of unacceptable impact to the environment in the medium term. I consider that the inclusion of the catch on the list of exempt native specimens for the next five years, without interim review, would not be sufficiently precautionary. Therefore, 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 under permits for the next three years. I will make the declaration subject to the conditions as attached. These conditions aim to further minimise the risks associated with this fishery and have been discussed between our two Departments. Please note that the conditions require an annual report to Environment Australia on progress in implementing the other conditions and other managerial commitments. I would be compelled under the EPBC Act to revoke the declaration if I was satisfied that any of the conditions have been contravened.

I would like to congratulate you and your Department on the significant reforms that have been made to the management of the fishery through the introduction of the Fishery Management Strategy (FMS). A number of these have been critical to my decision. The combination of management arrangements, data gathering and proposed research provides confidence in the fishery's ability to ensure sustainable catch levels, maintain acceptable bycatch levels, minimise interaction with protected species and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.

Before I make my declaration, I seek your agreement to implement the conditions attached. In addition, I seek your assurance that the systematic risk based assessment, outlined in the FMS, on the interaction and impacts of commercial fishing on protected and threatened species, populations or communities will consider the impacts of provisioning through discards. I look forward to receiving your agreement to the implementation of these recommendations, and will enact this declaration once you have responded.

I greatly appreciate the way your Department has worked closely with mine to integrate the ecological sustainability requirements of the EPBC Act into the development of the FMS. I would like to thank you for the constructive way in which your officials have approached this task and I look forward to reviewing the remainder of the New South Wales managed fisheries.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

David Kemp
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

Agreed conditions on the Approved Wildlife Trade Declaration for the New South Wales Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the Fishery Management Strategy - Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery - 2003.
  2. NSW Fisheries will inform the Department of the Environment and Heritage of any changes to the Fishery Management Strategy - Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery - 2003.
  3. NSW Fisheries will ensure that ecological sustainability considerations take precedence over other considerations in determining an acceptable range in response to a trigger point review.
    1. An annual performance assessment is to be conducted to assess the performance indicators against the specified trigger points, and of each management response against the implementation timeframes;
    2. If the performance assessment finds that a trigger point has been exceeded or the timeframes have not been met, the resulting actions will be carried out as provided for in the Fishery Management Strategy - Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery - 2003;
    3. Any review reports prepared as a result of Condition 4(b) will be made publicly available and provided to the Department of the Environment and Heritage in a timely manner;
    4. A performance report will be prepared biennially documenting;
    5. The status of the performance indicators compared to the trigger points in each of the two years prior to the report;
    6. The progress made in implementing each management response over the two years prior to the report;
    7. The outcome of any review reports that were prepared over the two years prior to the report.