South Australian Pilchard Fishery - Ministerial decision 2004

Ministerial Decision
Margaret Tailby, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 14 October 2004

The Hon Rory McEwan MP
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
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 Pilchard Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In November 2003 the Department of Primary Industries and Resources (PIRSA) submitted the document entitled Ecological Assessment of the South Australian Pilchard Fishery for assessment under the Act.

The submission has been assessed for the purposes of Part 13 and the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the EPBC 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.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 South Australian Pilchard 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 South Australian Pilchard 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 fishery is well managed under a comprehensive, adaptable, precautionary and ecologically based regime capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fishery. The combination of management arrangements, data gathering, proposed research and nature of the fishery allows confidence that the fishery managers will maintain low bycatch levels, minimise interactions with protected species and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that PIRSA 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.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

Margaret Tailby
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

14 October 2004

Recommendations to the Department of Primary Industries and Resources (PIRSA) on the ecologically sustainable management of the South Australian Pilchard Fishery

The South Australian Pilchard Fishery is a well-managed fishery with a range of management measures in place to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery. These measures include:

  • A comprehensive information collection system;
  • Reviewable management objectives, strategies and performance indicators contained within a detailed draft management plan for the fishery;
  • A robust stock assessment and TACC setting process; and
  • An ongoing project assessing the ecosystem effects of the fishery.

In making its assessment, DEH considers that the comprehensive information collection system, management arrangements and commitment to continual improvement are sufficient to ensure the fishery is conducted in a manner that does not lead to over-fishing and that stocks are not currently overfished. In addition, management of this fishery has a history of reacting appropriately to threats to sustainability and DEH is confident that PIRSA will continue to provide this high quality management. DEH commends the proactive management approach taken in this fishery and PIRSA's commitment to implement byproduct trigger limits in response to concerns raised by DEH earlier in the assessment process.

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. PIRSA should action these recommendations before the next review in 2009.

  1. That PIRSA advise DEH of any material change to the South Australian Pilchard Fishery's management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
  2. Within 3 months of becoming aware of the breaching of a performance measure, the Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia to finalise a clear timeframe for the implementation of appropriate management responses.
  3. That PIRSA develop within 2 years a performance indicator and performance measure to ensure that bycatch is minimised in the South Australian Pilchard Fishery.
  4. That PIRSA provide a mechanism, which allows fishers to record interactions with protected/listed species at a species level. PIRSA to implement an education program to ensure that industry has the capacity to make these reports at an appropriate level of accuracy.
  5. Should new information determine that the fishery is having significant interactions with any endangered, threatened or protected species, PIRSA will develop appropriate measures to mitigate those interactions. Measures should be implemented within 12 months of the information becoming available.
  6. Should the ecological effects survey determine that the fishery is having significant ecosystem impacts, PIRSA will develop and implement appropriate measures to mitigate those impacts in a timely manner.