South Australian Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardsii) Fishery - Ministerial decision 2003

Ministerial Decision
David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 3 November 2003

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

Dear Minister

In April 2003 Primary Industries and Resources South Australia submitted the document Ecological Assessment of the South Australian Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardsii) Fishery for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The submission has been assessed in accordance with the protected species provisions 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 DEH website at: www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html

I am satisfied that it is unlikely that fishing operations conducted in accordance with the management arrangements will adversely affect the conservation status of protected species, or affect the survival and recovery of threatened species. 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 Rock Lobster Fishery meet the requirements of Part 13 of the EPBC 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 southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) taken in the South Australian Rock Lobster Fishery, for a period of five years. Such listing will serve to exempt the fishery from export controls of the Act and exempt exporters from requiring export permits under the EPBC Act.

The management arrangements for the fishery meet the Commonwealth 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 provides confidence in the fishery's ability to 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 Primary Industries and Resources South Australia is addressing them adequately. Officers from our two departments have discussed some 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 Commonwealth 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 agreement to their implementation.

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]

David Kemp
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

3 November 2003

Recommendations

Recommendations to Primary Industries and Resources South Australia on the ecologically sustainable management of the South Australian Rock Lobster Fishery

The South Australian Rock lobster fishery is a well-managed fishery with a range of significant management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery. These measures include:

  • A comprehensive suite of input and output controls for the target species;
  • A wide range of reviewable management objectives, strategies and performance indicators contained within detailed management plans for the fishery;
  • A comprehensive fisheries dependant catch monitoring, disposal and sampling regime;
  • Independently reviewed stock assessment model;
  • Introduction of additional catch controls and monitoring arrangements to improve stock recovery in the Northern Zone of the fishery;
  • Quantitative risk assessment surveys of byproduct and bycatch; and
  • Proactive approach to mitigating protected species interactions and minimising marine pollution.

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. Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA) should action these recommendations before the next review in 2008.

  1. PIRSA to inform the Department of the Environment and Heritage of any significant changes to the management regime of the South Australian Rock Lobster Fishery.
  2. The current review of SA's Fisheries Act 1982 should provide for the inclusion of general community members on the two 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 pursue complementary management arrangements with other Australian jurisdictions responsible for managing southern rock lobster fisheries to ensure that all removals and other relevant impacts on the stock are properly accounted for in stock assessments.
  4. PIRSA to continue to improve assessment of all components of non-commercial catch in the fishery to be factored into the annual stock assessment process and management of the fishery. This will include further periodic surveys or other data collection and analysis measures to enhance the assessments of recreational and indigenous catch in the fishery. .
  5. PIRSA, within 18 months, to review the monitoring requirements for both zones of the fishery, including options for independent monitoring appropriate to the scale of fishing and status of stocks in the main fishing areas, to identify monitoring measures necessary to confirm the status of stocks and support stock recovery strategies. PIRSA to progressively implement priority actions identified in the review.
  6. PIRSA and the SA industry to work with their Victorian counterparts to investigate and adopt appropriate measures to address quota avoidance, misreporting of catches and other illegal activities in waters near the SA-Victoria border. These measures should be built into SA's compliance strategies.
  7. Performance measures and targets for the main byproduct species to be included in the revised management plans for both zones, and the catches of the main byproduct species should be reviewed as part of the annual stock assessment process.
  8. PIRSA to develop within 18 months a conservative harvest strategy for the Northern Zone fishery, including a TAC to commence on 1 November 2003, that includes recovery targets and reference points, and monitoring arrangements, representative of the scale of fishing in the Zone, and stock recovery timeframes.
  9. Priority should be given to early implementation of escape gaps in the Northern Zone, and should be mandatory in both zones by October 2004. Decisions on the dimensions of escape gaps in both zones to be based on the requirement to minimise fishery impacts on all bycatch species.
  10. PIRSA within 18 months to introduce mandatory structured reporting of all interactions between the rock lobster fishery and endangered, threatened or protected species.
  11. PIRSA and industry to continue to monitor the extent of interactions between rock lobster fishery and fur seals and sea lions, and develop appropriate mitigation measures, including establishment within 2 years of preliminary trigger and reference points, to minimise these interactions.
  12. PIRSA within 12 months to conduct a qualitative risk assessment of the interactions between the rock lobster fishery and protected species off SA and use the outcomes of this assessment to implement further protected species mitigation measures as required.
  13. PIRSA to develop measures to assess ecosystem impacts of the fishery. Consideration should be given to the appropriateness of reference areas that would allow comparison between fished and unfished areas.