Queensland East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 28 November 2005

The Hon Gordon Nuttall MP
Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
GPO Box 46
BRISBANE QLD 4001

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as the Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage regarding the assessment of the Queensland East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (ECIFF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The current export exemption for the ECIFF expires on 1 December 2005.

The Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) has commenced the assessment of the fishery as described in the submission from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (QDPI&F). As you would be aware the public comment period closed on 11 November 2005 and a total of 6 comments were received. These comments have been provided to QDPI&F for comment and amendment of the submission as appropriate.

To provide for continued export approval for the ECIFF after 1 December 2005, DEH has undertaken an assessment of the ECIFF against the criteria of the EPBC Act relying on the original submission and the public comments received. DEH has identified a number of issues that need to be addressed by QDPI&F, and these will be relayed to your Department as soon as the revised submission and responses to the public comments are received. The issues include the lack of progress in the development and implementation of a formal management plan, the impact of the fishery on a range of protected species, the lack of quantitative stock assessments on key species taken in the fishery, the lack of verified data on all species impacted by the fishery operations, compliance concerns and possible latent effort issues. Based on this assessment I am not in a position to make a long term decision in relation to the ECIFF 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, on balance, it complies with the requirements of the EPBC Act such that it can be declared an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) for a short term period of 6 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 ECIFF WTO on the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that exporters will not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery will continue to operate as a WTO for the 6 month period of the declaration and all WTO conditions will continue to apply.

I would urge that officers of your Department continue to work to develop the necessary management plan and address the issues identified. I look forward to being advised by QDPI&F of the progress being made, particularly on the management plan but also on the stock assessments.

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

28 November 2005

Attachment A

Conditions on the Wildlife Trade Operation Declaration for the Queensland East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the management regime in force under the Queensland Fisheries Act 1994 and the Fisheries Regulation 1995.
  2. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (QDPI&F) to inform the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any intended amendments to the management regime or managerial commitments made in the submission that may affect sustainability of the target/byproduct species or have a negative impact on the status of bycatch, protected species or the ecosystem
  3. Within 3 months, QDPI&F to initiate the development of a formal management plan for the fishery that addresses the ecological sustainability of target (including byproduct) and bycatch species (including protected species) taken in the East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery.
  4. Within 4 months, QDPI&F to develop a program for stock assessments for species taken in the fishery and based on priorities established through a risk assessment analysis.
  5. QDPI&F to report on progress in implementing revised management arrangements for the East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery to DEH by 1 March 2006.