South Australian Specimen Shell Fishery - Ministerial decision 2004

Ministerial Decision
Ian Cresswell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 17 November 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 Specimen Shell Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In August 2004 the Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia (PIRSA) submitted the document entitled Ecological Assessment of the South Australian Specimen Shell Fishery for assessment under the Act.

The submission has been assessed for the purposes of 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 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 Specimen Shell 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 and nature of the fishery allows confidence that the fishery managers will 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 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]

Ian Cresswell
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

17 November 2004

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

The South Australian Specimen Shell 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:

  • Spatial closures;
  • Species restrictions;
  • A bag limit for sensitive species;
  • Prohibition on the removal of specimens from egg masses and of those depositing eggs
  • Limited entry to the fishery; and
  • Selective and benign harvesting methods.

DEH notes that the South Australian Specimen Shell Management Plan was due for review by PIRSA in July 2002, however the small scale of this fishery meant that such a review was not a priority for PIRSA's resources. DEH also notes that, while the fishery has continued to be managed according to the arrangements outlined in the 1997 management plan in the interim, PIRSA plans to implement recommendations from this assessment simultaneously with the review of the management plan. DEH urges PIRSA to conduct this review in a timely manner.

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.

Recommendations:

  1. The Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia to advise DEH of any material change to the South Australian Specimen Shell Fishery's management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
  2. PIRSA to implement the recording of specimen shell status (alive/dead) in logbook returns.
  3. PIRSA to ensure that reliable estimates of recreational harvest of specimen shells is obtained and factored into the assessment and management of the South Australian Specimen Shell Fishery.