Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery

Ministerial decision
Dr David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 5 February 2002

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

Dear Minister

In August 2001 your Department submitted the document - Ecological Assessment of the Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery for assessment under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982. This Act has now been superseded by amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The fishery has been assessed against the Commonwealth's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries, to detem1ine whether the fishery should be exempt from the export controls ofPart 13A of the EPBC Act. The fishery was also assessed to determine whether the fishery should be accredited for the purposes of the protected species provisions ofPart 13 of the EPBC Act. The latter assessment is required because the fishery takes place, at least in part, in Commonwealth waters.

I am pleased to advise that assessment of the fishery is now complete and that spanner crab (Ranina ranina) taken in the Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery will be exempt from the export controls of the EPBC Act for a further five years. I have also accredited the management plan for the purposes of Part 13 of the EPBC Act so that individual fishers are not required to seek permits if they are at risk of taking or injuring listed species in Commonwealth waters. The assessment report is available on the EA web site at the following address: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html.

Upon assessing the fishery it was determined that the Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery is well managed and operates in accordance with the Commonwealth's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The management regime is considered sufficiently precautionary and capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fishery whilst ensuring the stocks are fished sustainably.

The fishery does not impose significant risk to bycatch species, and interactions with threatened species, ecological communities and the broader marine ecosystem, are very low The combination of gear type, fishing operation and lack of significant interaction with the marine environment beyond the target species, makes the risk of impact on the broader ecosystem low.

It is important to note that in arriving at my decision I have had particular regard to the decision rules underpinning the stock assessment process and their ability to manage the target species in an ecologically sustainable way. The effectiveness of the decision rules is further strengthened by the requirement under the management plan for a change in the total allowable catch should the decision rules be triggered. Also of significant consideration is the selectivity and relatively benign environmental impact of the fishery gear employed in this fishery. I believe that commitment to the maintenance of these key features of the fishery is essential to the ongoing ecologically sustainable management of the fishery.

On balance I am satisfied that the fishery is managed in an ecologically sustainable way and I believe there are no major environmental risks associated with this fishery .I have however made a number of recommendations that should be addressed prior to the next Commonwealth review of the fishery in five years time. I understand that officials in both our portfolios have agreed the attached recommendations. It is now important that clear timeframes for the implementation of theses recommendations are developed and I suggest our respective departments agree a timetable to ensure they are implemented effectively and in a timely manner.

I would like to thank you for the constructive way in which your officials have approached this task and I look forward to reviewing the remainder of your export fisheries prior to December 2003.

Yours sincerely

[signed]

Dr David Kemp
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

5 February 2002

Recommendations to Queensland Fisheries Service on the ecologically sustainable management of the Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery

  1. Establish arrangements with NSW to establish joint monitoring and assessment of the shared stock of spanner crabs with a view to developing future collaborative management arrangements.
  2. Periodically review the compliance and enforcement strategy and activities to ensure emerging compliance risks are identified and addressed. Particular attention should be given to the validation of catch per unit effort (CPUE) data.
  3. Continue work to develop a stock assessment model based on sound biological data, and an analysis of the impact of effort creep on the current total allowable commercial catch setting process and management responses.
  4. Review the Managed Area A/Managed Area B boundary location to ensure that it is not compounding risks associated with CPUE and individual transferable quota reporting.
  5. Develop an appropriate means of monitoring bycatch in the fishery in addition to the Long Tenn Monitoring Program.
  6. Establish a reporting mechanism for protected species interactions, including the development of a protocol for reporting of interactions of protected marine species to EA as required under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and the development of a program to educate fishers about protected species. If it is revealed that interactions occur more frequently than previously thought, mitigation measures, including trigger and reference points, should be introduced to reduce interactions.
  7. Undertake a fonnal risk assessment of the ecological impact of the fishery on predator prey relationships before the next assessment to confirm assumptions that the broad ecosystem effects of the fishery are low.