Northern Territory Timor Reef Fishery Assessment - Ministerial decision 2003

Ministerial Decision
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 13 May 2003

The Hon Dr Chris Burns MLA
Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
GPO Box 3146
DARWIN NT 0801

Dear Minister

In June 2002 Northern Territory Fisheries submitted the document Assessing the Ecological Sustainability of the Northern Territory Timor Reef Fishery for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The submission has been assessed in accordance with the protected species provisions of Part 13 and 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 it is unlikely that fishing operations conducted in accordance with the management arrangements will adversely affect the conservation status of protected species, or affect the survival and recovery of threatened species. The management arrangements for the fishery require that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that protected species are not injured or killed and the level of interactions with such species in the fishery is not likely to adversely affect the conservation status of protected species or the survival and recovery of listed threatened species. Hence, the management arrangements for the NT Timor Reef Fishery meet the requirements of Part 13 of the Act and I propose to accredit the management arrangements accordingly. Accreditation will ensure that individual fishers operating in accordance with the management arrangements are not required to seek permits in relation to interactions with protected species in Commonwealth waters.

I am satisfied that for the purposes of the wildlife trade provisions in part 13A of the EPBC Act, the management arrangements provide the basis for the fishery to be managed in an ecologically sustainable way. I therefore propose to amend the list of exempt native specimens, to include all specimens taken in the Timor Reef Fishery, for a period of five years. Such listing will serve to exempt the fishery from other export controls of the Act and exempt exporters from requiring export permits under the Act.

The management arrangements for the fishery meet the Commonwealth Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The fishery is managed under a comprehensive, adaptable, precautionary and ecologically based regime capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fishery. The combination of management arrangements, data gathering, proposed research and nature of the fishery provides confidence in the fishery's ability to maintain relatively low bycatch levels, minimise interaction with protected species and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that NT Fisheries is addressing them adequately. Officers from our two departments have discussed some key areas requiring ongoing attention. I understand that they have agreed to a number of recommended actions, focusing on ensuring the continuation of good management practices, to be implemented before the next Commonwealth review of the fishery. These recommendations, attached to the letter, have been an important factor in my decision to exempt the fishery and I look forward to receiving your agreement to their implementation.

I would like to thank you for the constructive way in which your officials have approached this assessment and I look forward to reviewing the remainder of the Northern Territory managed fisheries.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

David Kemp
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

13th May 2003