Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery

Ministerial Decision - Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery
Ian Cresswell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 6 December 2004

The Hon Henry Palaszczuk MP
Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
Primary Industries Building
GPO Box 46
Brisbane QLD 4001

Dear Minister

I am writing to you in relation to the assessment of the Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery (Qld ECBDMF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In July 2004 the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) submitted the document entitled Ecological Assessment of the Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery for assessment under the Act.

The submission has been assessed for the purposes of the protected species provisions of Part 13 and the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the Act.

I am pleased to advise that assessment of the fishery is now complete. The assessment report will be available on the Department of the Environment and Heritage website at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html.

I am satisfied that 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 Qld ECBDMF 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 the operation of the fishery is consistent with objects of the wildlife trade provisions in Part 13A of the Act. I am also satisfied that it is unlikely to be detrimental to the survival or conservation status of any taxon, to which the fishery operation relates, or threaten any relevant ecosystem. The fishery is relatively well managed and operates under a precautionary ecologically based regime capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fishery. Performance against the Australian Government Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries is adequate, however there are a number of issues that need to be addressed to contain environmental risks in the longer term. Hence, I propose to declare the fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO), under Part 13A of the Act. This declaration would allow the export of product from the fishery for the next three years. I will make the declaration subject to the conditions at Attachment A.

I also propose to include product from this WTO fishery on the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that exporters would not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery would continue to operate as a WTO for the period of the declaration (3 years) and all WTO conditions would continue to apply.

The management regime aims to ensure that fishing is conducted in a manner that does not lead to over-fishing and for fishing operations to be managed to minimise their impact on the structure, productivity, function and biological diversity of the ecosystem. The introduction of a suite of industry implemented management measures on 1 July 2004 has significantly contributed to advancing the management of the Qld ECBDMF. On balance, the fishery is being managed in an ecologically sustainable manner and is working to address existing problems and to minimise environmental risks.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that DPI&F is committed to addressing these issues and, with the cooperation of industry, is already taking proactive steps in some areas. Officers from our two departments and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) have discussed key areas requiring ongoing and increased attention. I understand that they have agreed to a number of recommended actions, focusing on addressing key issues, to be implemented before the next Australian Government review of the fishery (Attachment B).

The recommendations have been an important factor in my decision to declare the fishery a WTO and I look forward to receiving your confirmation that they will be implemented.

I would like to thank you for the constructive way in which your officials have approached this assessment.

Yours sincerely

[signed]

Ian Cresswell
Assistant Secretary
Wildlife Trade & Sustainable Fisheries Branch
Department of the Environment and Heritage
6 December 2004

Proposed conditions on the approved wildlife trade declaration wild for the Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery

Conditions on a declared WTO

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery management regime in force under the Fisheries Act 1994 and the Fisheries Regulation 1995;
  2. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) will inform the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any intended amendments to the Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery management regime that may affect the sustainability of the target species or negatively impact on the ecosystem;
  3. Reports to be produced and presented to DEH annually, and to include:
    • A description of the status of the fishery, and catch and effort information;
    • A statement of the performance of the fishery against objectives, performance indicators and measures once developed;
    • Information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress of acronym title="Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries">DPI&F in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery 2004; and
    • Research undertaken or completed relevant to the fishery.

Recommendations to the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries on the ecologically sustainable management of the Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery

The Queensland East Coast Beche-de-mer Fishery (Qld ECBDMF) is a relatively well-managed fishery with a range of management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery.

The Qld ECBDMF has an adequate management regime including limited entry, minimum size limits, total allowable catches for all species of beche-de-mer harvested and an industry implemented rotational zoning scheme, that should enable the fishery to continue to be ecologically sustainable in the short to medium term. Management arrangements provide the basis to ensure that fishing is conducted in a manner that will not lead to overfishing.

While the fishery is relatively well managed, a number of risks and uncertainties that must be managed to ensure that their impacts are minimised have been identified. The following recommendations aim to address these risks and uncertainties. DPI&F should action these recommendations before the next review in 2007 or within the timeframes specified.

Recommendations

  1. Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to inform the Department of the Environment and Heritage of any intended amendments to the management arrangements that may affect sustainability of the target species or negatively impact on the ecosystem.
  2. From 2005, the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to report publicly on the status of the fishery on an annual basis, including explicit reporting against each performance measure once developed.
  3. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to conduct a risk assessment to ensure compliance resources are targeted to the areas of greatest risk within 2 years.
  4. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to cooperate with other jurisdictions in efforts to undertake research on key gaps in beche-de-mer biology and ecology.
  5. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to develop and implement a robust system to validate commercial logbook reporting of catch and effort in the fishery within two years.
  6. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to continue to refine analysis of fishery dependent data to ensure that the status and performance of the fishery can be adequately reviewed.
  7. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to develop and implement a robust method of monitoring stock status for key target species.
  8. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to obtain estimates of sustainable harvest levels for key target species in the fishery within three years.
  9. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to develop fishery specific objectives linked to performance indicators and performance measures for all beche-de-mer species and for fishery impacts on the ecosystem within two years. Within three months of becoming aware that a performance measure has not been met, the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to finalise a clear timetable for the implementation of appropriate management responses.
  10. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to implement within one year, measures to minimise localised depletion and serial depletion in the fishery.

The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to develop and implement a precautionary recovery strategy for overfished species, that specifies reference points linked to management actions, within two years.