South Australian Sea Urchin Fishery - Ministerial decision 2005

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate for the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 28 October 2005

The Hon Rory McEwen MP
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
Minister for State/Local Government Relations
Minister for Forests
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 Sea Urchin Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In September 2004 the Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia (PIRSA) submitted the document entitled Ecological Assessment of the South Australian Sea Urchin Fishery for assessment under the Act.

The submission has been assessed for the purposes of 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.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/sa/sea-urchin/index.html.

I am satisfied that the operation of the fishery is consistent with the 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 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 also propose to include product from this WTO fishery on the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that exporters would not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery would continue to operate as a WTO for the period of the declaration (3 years) and all WTO conditions would continue to apply.

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 Australian Government 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.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

Andrew McNee
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

28 October 2005

Attachment A

Conditions on the Wildlife Trade Operation Declaration for the South Australian Sea Urchin Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the South Australian Sea Urchin Fishery management regimein force under the South Australian Fisheries Act 1982 and the South Australian Scheme of Management (Miscellaneous Fisheries) Regulations 1991.
  2. The Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia (PIRSA) will advise DEH of any material change to the fishery’s management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
  3. Reports to be produced and presented to DEH annually, and to include:
    • information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress of PIRSA in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the South Australian Sea Urchin Fishery 2005;
    • a description of the status of the fishery and catch and effort information;
    • a statement of the performance of the fishery against objectives, performance indicators and measures once developed; and
    • research undertaken or completed relevant to the fishery.

Attachment B

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

The South Australian Sea Urchin 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.

DEH recognises that the fishery is currently in a developmental phase and that PIRSA have committed to implementing more formal management arrangements should the fishery progress beyond the developmental phase. DEH welcomes the commitment to developing the fishery in a precautionary and sustainable manner that will take into account the requirements expressed through the recommendations presented below.

The South Australian Sea Urchin Fishery has an adequate management regime including limited entry, gear restrictions and limited harvest times that should enable the fishery to continue to be ecologically sustainable in the short to medium term. Stocks are not currently overfished and management arrangements provide the basis to ensure that fishing is conducted in a manner that will not lead to over-fishing.

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 in 2008 or within the timeframe specified in individual recommendations.

Recommendations

  1. PIRSA to advise DEH of any material change to the 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 18 months PIRSA to develop precautionary fishery specific objectives linked to performance indicators and performance measures for the target species and impacts on the ecosystem.
  3. PIRSA to develop and implement a robust system to validate commercial logbook reporting of catch and effort in the fishery within two years.
  4. PIRSA to develop and implement management strategies to address key gaps in the knowledge of sea urchin biology and ecology.
  5. Within 18 months, PIRSA to develop a process to improve estimates of recreational and Indigenous take and factor these into management arrangements.
  6. Within 2 years PIRSA to develop and implement finer scale data collection and reporting and management measures to mitigate the risk of localised and serial depletion of sea urchins in the fishery.