South Australian Giant Crab Fishery - Ministerial decision 2004

Ministerial Decision
Ian Campbell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 19 March 2004

The Hon Paul Holloway MLC
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
Mineral for Resources Development
GPO Box 668
Adelaide SA 5001

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the South Australian Giant Crab Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In December 2003 the Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia (PIRSA) submitted the document entitled Ecological Assessment of the South Australian Giant Crab (Pseudocarcinus gigas) 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: www.ea.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 South Australian Giant Crab 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 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 an adaptable and 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 note that the management arrangements for this small scale fishery are still in a developmental stage and considerable progress towards sound and precautionary management arrangements has been made. I particularly note the introduction of an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system and conservative total allowable catch limits to both zones of the fishery; the conservative minimum size limit; catch validation system and sound compliance and enforcement capabilities. The current strategic management planning, monitoring, assessment, response and review programs and processes in place, and the improved measures outlined in the Submission, show evidence of PIRSA's commitment to the ecological sustainability of the fishery.

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. 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 PIRSA is committed to addressing these issues and is already taking proactive steps in some areas. Officers from our two departments 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 Commonwealth review of the fishery. The recommendations (Attachment B) 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 and I look forward to reviewing the remainder of the South Australian managed fisheries.

Yours sincerely

[signed]

Ian Cresswell

Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

19th March 2004

Proposed conditions on the Approved Wildlife Trade Declaration for the South Australian Giant Crab Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the management regime for the fishery in force under the Scheme of Management (Miscellaneous Fisheries) Regulations 2000 and the Fisheries (General) Regulations 2000.
  2. Reports to be produced and presented to the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage annually, and to include:
    1. A description of the status of the fishery, catch and effort information and the total allowable catch setting process and outcomes of that process;
    2. The performance of the fishery against stated goals, objectives, strategies and reference points;
    3. Research undertaken or completed relevant to the fishery; and
    4. An outline of progress in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the South Australian Giant Crab Fishery 2004.

Recommendations to the Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia (PIRSA) on the ecologically sustainable management of the South Australian Giant Crab Fishery

The South Australian Giant Crab Fishery is a relatively well-managed fishery with a range of significant management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery.

The management arrangements for this small scale fishery are still in a developmental stage and considerable progress has been made towards sound and precautionary management arrangements. Of particular note is the introduction of an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system and conservative total allowable catch limits to both zones of the fishery; the conservative minimum size limit; catch validation system and sound compliance and enforcement capabilities. The current strategic management planning, monitoring, assessment, response and review programs and processes in place, and the improved measures outlined in the PIRSA Submission, show evidence of PIRSA's commitment to the ecological sustainability of the fishery.

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. PIRSA should action these recommendations before the next review of the fishery in 2007.

  1. PIRSA to inform DEH of any significant future amendments to the management regime for the South Australian Giant Crab Fishery or managerial commitments made in the Submission.
  2. PIRSA to establish a consultative mechanism to ensure that specialist giant crab fishers have the opportunity to provide input into management, stock assessment and research priority setting for the giant crab fishery. In addition, the current review of South Australia's Fisheries Act 1982 should provide for the inclusion of general community members on fisheries management committees. Greater efforts should also be made to increase conservation and general community involvement in stock assessments and research priority setting processes.
  3. PIRSA to implement a system for the ongoing monitoring of giant crab catch size composition for giant crab quota holders, and incorporate results into annual stock assessments and future management arrangements.
  4. PIRSA to review the research and stock assessment needs and priorities to support the sustainable management of the giant crab fishery. Analysis of research needs should take into account any gaps in the basic biological parameters required for stock assessment and include consideration of any habitat and ecosystem impacts associated with fishing. A strategic research plan / strategy to address identified priority areas will be developed and will include clear and achievable timeframes for implementation.
  5. PIRSA to ensure that fishing effort data are standardised to more accurately reflect the degree of targeting of giant crabs by all fishers in the fishery and provide a more robust index of giant crab abundance. Existing assessments should be re-evaluated and all future assessments based on standardised effort data.
  6. PIRSA to develop and implement, in conjunction with other relevant jurisdictions where possible, a robust stock assessment model to establish a quantitative basis for annual TAC setting and determination of stock status.
  7. PIRSA to establish a regular dialogue with other Australian jurisdictions responsible for managing giant crab fisheries to ensure that research and management arrangements are complementary. All available information regarding removals of target and by-product species by other jurisdictions and sectors (including Commonwealth trawlers) is to be considered in stock assessments.
  8. PIRSA to collaborate, where appropriate, with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority on any future research or data collection programs to assess the impact of harvest and incidental damage to giant crabs and their habitat by trawling activity in giant crab fishing grounds.
  9. PIRSA to review the suite of indictors and measures used to assess the performance of the fishery, following the completion of a quantitative stock assessment.
  10. PIRSA to develop and implement a mandatory system for the monitoring and assessment of bycatch and protected species interactions for all giant crab quota holders to ensure that changes in bycatch quantity and/or composition and protected species interactions can be detected and monitored over time.
  11. PIRSA to conduct an ecological risk assessment focussed on interactions of the fishery with bycatch and protected species, ecological communities, deepwater habitats and the marine environment to confirm assumptions that the fishery poses minimal risk to these components. The risk assessment should also include assessment of the risk of ghost fishing by lost or discarded giant crab pots in the fishery. Using the outcomes of the risk assessment, PIRSA to also develop appropriate monitoring, performance measures and responses for the ongoing management of components identified as high risk.