Queensland East Coast Pearl Fishery

Ministerial Decision
Ian Cresswell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 16 February 2005

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

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the Queensland East Coast Pearl Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In September 2004 the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) submitted the document entitled Ecological Assessment of the East Coast Pearl Fishery. 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/assessment/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 East Coast Pearl 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 specimens that are or are derived from fish taken in the East Coast Pearl Fishery, excluding specimens that are listed under Part 13 of the EPBC Act, for a period of five years. Such listing will serve to exempt the fishery from the export controls of the EPBC Act, providing the fishery continues not to involve the export of specimens listed on the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.

The management arrangements for the fishery meet the Australian Government's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The East Coast Pearl Fishery is a small scale low impact fishery that is appropriately precautionary. The combination of management arrangements, data gathering, and nature of the fishery allows confidence that the fishery managers will maintain 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 DPI&F is addressing them adequately. Officers from our two departments have discussed 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 Australian Government 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 confirmation that they will be implemented.

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 Queensland managed fisheries.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

Ian Cresswell
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

16 February 2005

Recommendations to the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Queensland East Coast Pearl Fishery

The East Coast Pearl Fishery is a well-managed fishery with a range of management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery. These measures include:

  • Limited entry;
  • Harvesting restricted to hand collection;
  • Minimum, maximum size restrictions for commercial and recreational take;
  • Spatial management measures.

The following recommendations have been made to further strengthen the effectiveness of the management arrangements for the fishery and minimise environmental risks in the medium to longer term. DPI&F should action these recommendations before the next review in 2010.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1. DPI&F to inform DEH of any intended amendments to the management arrangements that may affect sustainability of the target species or negatively impact on protected species or the ecosystem.

Recommendation 2. From 2005, DPI&F to report publicly on the status of the fishery on an annual basis, including explicit reporting against each performance measure once developed.

Recommendation 3. By the end of 2006, DPI&F develop fishery specific objectives linked to performance indicators and performance measures for target species and impacts on the ecosystem.

Recommendation 4. DPI&F to monitor the status of the fishery in relation to the performance measures once developed. Within 3 months of becoming aware of a performance measure not being met DPI&F to finalise a clear timetable for the implementation of appropriate management responses.