Northern Territory Shark Fishery

Recommendations Update Letter
Department of the Environment and Water Resources, March 2007

Mr David McKey
Aquatic Resource Management Officer
Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries and Mines
GPO Box 3000
DARWIN NT 0801

Dear Mr McKey

Thank you for your email to Mark Allen on 19 February 2007, seeking an extension to a Department of the Environment and Water Resources' Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) recommendation for the Northern Territory (NT) Offshore Net and Line Fishery (formally known as the Shark Fishery).

The recommendation that you referred to in your email (recommendation 1) was to be initially addressed by June 2006. A six month extension to the recommendation (to 31 December 2006) was granted by the Department of the Environment and Water Resources in April 2006 due to a six month extension being granted to Phase Two of a related Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) shark project. It is now understood that, due to delays with FRDC releasing the final project report, the Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries and Mines (DPIFM) have been unable to address this recommendation by the new December 2006 timeframe.

While the NT Offshore Net and Line Fishery is a relatively well-managed fishery, this recommendation addresses specific issues which must be managed to ensure that the fishery's impacts are minimised. Conditions and recommendations were developed by the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, and agreed with by DPIFM officials, to address these issues and improve management of the fishery. While I understand that DPIFM is not responsible for the delay in meeting the recommendation, an important consideration in the Delegate's decision to declare the NT Offshore Net and Line Fishery a WTO was agreement to and implementation of the conditions and recommendations.

While the Department of the Environment and Water Resources is concerned with delays to implement recommendations within the nominated timeframe, I believe that DPIFM is committed to addressing these issues and has already taken proactive steps in some areas.

I understand that DPIFM has completed a review on the adequacy of current management objectives, performance indicators, trigger points and management actions against the latest available verified data. The current management objectives and performance indicators for the fishery are being met and trigger points are yet to be reached. I also understand that the review considered management actions or responses to triggers to be appropriate within available data while Phase 2 of the joint FRDC, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Queensland, Western Australia and NT shark project (FRDC 2002/064) is being finalised.

In addition, DPIFM is continuing to develop species-specific measures based on a risk analysis with the completion of this work contingent upon the release of data currently being gathered in Phase 2 of the FRDC project. I understand that this project should be finalised by June 2007, enabling recommendation 1 and other management commitments to be addressed.

While the final report has not yet been released by FRDC, I also understand that DPIFM has been active in promoting a review of information relevant to the fishery while waiting for the release of the Phase 2 report.

In recognition of DPIFM's progress and commitment to addressing this recommendation and that the final FRDC project report is near completion, I am willing to extend the timeframe for recommendation 1 until 30 August 2007. I have included a full list of conditions and updated recommendations for the NT Offshore Net and Line Fishery at Attachment A for your information.

While the delays in DPIFM in meeting these recommendations is unlikely to affect the immediate sustainability of the target species, these issues and recommendations need to be addressed to ensure longer term sustainability of the fish stocks. Please note, that should recommendations associated with the WTO declaration for the NT Offshore Net and Line Fishery not be implemented, the Minister may revoke the declaration. Furthermore, if the Minister is satisfied that a condition on the WTO has been contravened, then he must revoke the declaration. If the declaration is revoked, export of product from this fishery would no longer be permitted and would be an offence under the EPBC Act.

I note that the NT Offshore Net and Line Fishery WTO declaration expires on 30 November 2007. I look forward to receiving the submission report to be assessed against the Australia Government Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. I also look forward to receiving confirmation that recommendation 1 of the WTO declaration for the fishery and other associated commitments have been met within the nominated timeframes.

Yours sincerely

[signed]

Lara Musgrave
Director
Sustainable Fisheries Policy and Assessment

March 2007


Conditions on the Approved Wildlife Trade declaration for the Northern Territory Offshore Net and Line Fishery

  1. Operation of the NT Shark Fishery (NTSF) will be carried out in accordance with the Management Regime for the Northern Territory Shark Fishery.
  2. DBIRD to advise DEH of any material change to the Northern Territory Shark Fishery's (NTSF) management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
  3. Reports to be produced and presented to DEH annually, and to include:
    • Information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress of DBIRD in implementing the recommendations made in the assessment of the NTSF;
    • A description of the status of the fishery and catch and effort information;
    • A statement of the performance of the fishery against the objectives, performance indicators and measures once developed; and
    • Research completed relevant to the fishery.

Recommendations to the Northern Territory Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development (DBIRD) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Northern Territory Offshore Net and Line Fishery

Recommendations

  1. DBIRD to review of the adequacy of management objectives, performance indicators, trigger points and management actions and develop species specific measures based on a risk analysis by 30 August 2007.
  2. By the end of 2006, DBIRD to review its catch logbook data validation program and incorporate fishery independent information as appropriate.
  3. DBIRD to continue to improve the system to identify and record shark catch (target, by-product and bycatch chondrichthyans) on a species - specific basis by June 2006. A component of this system should be an education program to ensure that industry has the capacity to make these reports at an appropriate level of accuracy.
  4. DBIRD to develop a program for stock assessments of target species on a triennial basis from 2006. Findings are to be used to review the adequacy of management objectives, performance measures, triggers and management responses within 6 months of the stock assessment.
  5. From January 2006, DBIRD to implement a scientifically robust observer program sufficient to meet sustainability objectives for the NTSF.
  6. From 2005, DBIRD to establish an annual review of by catch trends and the adequacy of mitigation measures and to include the outcomes of the review in the annual report on the fishery.

See also