Tasmanian Abalone Fishery

Ministerial Decision
Robyn Bromley, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, 31 January 2007

The Hon David Llewellyn MHA
Minister for Primary Industries and Water
5th Floor, Marine Board Building
1 Franklin Wharf
Hobart TAS 7000

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for The Environment and Water Resources in relation to the assessment of the Tasmanian Abalone Fishery (TAF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). An assessment of the TAF under the EPBC Act was completed in 2002. As a result of that assessment, the former Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Hon David Kemp MP, declared the TAF exempt from the export provisions of the EPBC Act and included product from the fishery on the List of Exempt Native Specimens (LENS) until 5 February 2007. No accreditation was required at this time under the relevant protected species provisions of Part 13 of the EPBC Act as interactions with protected species in the TAF were highly unlikely in the normal course of fishing operations.

In November 2006 the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (DPIW) submitted the document Reassessment of Ecological Sustainability in the Tasmanian Abalone Fishery for assessment under Parts 13 and 13A of the EPBC Act. The assessment also took account of measures that have been developed by DPIW in response to recommendations made in the initial assessment of the TAF to improve the management of the fishery.

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 Water Resources website at: http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/assessment/index.html.

As previously mentioned, when the fishery was first assessed by the Department of The Environment and Water Resources in 2002 no accreditation was required for the purposes of Part 13 of the EPBC Act. However, the Department of the Environment and Water Resources considers that the TAF should be accredited under Part 13 of the EPBC Act in the unlikely event that an interaction does occur.

The TAF is a dive fishery with direct and selective hand collection of the target species. The fishery is considered to have no identified significant adverse impacts on endangered, threatened or protected species or threatened ecological communities. I therefore believe it is appropriate to accredit the Tasmanian Fisheries (Abalone) Rules 2000 and the Tasmanian Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 under Part 13 of the EPBC Act. The new 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 LENS, to include specimens that are, or are derived from, fish taken in the TAF 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.

The management arrangements for the fishery meet the Australian Government Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The TAF is a relatively low impact fishery that is appropriately precautionary. The combination of management arrangements, data gathering, and nature of the fishery allows confidence that DPIW will manage the fishery in an ecologically sustainable way.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, DPIW 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. These recommendations (Attachment A) 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]

Robyn Bromley
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources

31 January 2007


Attachment A

Recommendations to the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (DPIW) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Tasmanian Abalone Fishery (TAF)

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

  • limited entry;
  • a total allowable catch (TAC) allocated across zones;
  • five management zones (four blacklip zones and one greenlip zone), each with a TAC;
  • minimum size limits for management zones;
  • mandatory possession of a measuring tool to measure abalone sizes;
  • area closures; and
  • reporting requirements.

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. Unless a specific time frame is provided in the recommendation, DPIW should action these recommendations before the next review of the fishery in 2012.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1: The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (DPIW) to advise the Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DTEWR) of any material change to the TAF management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) decisions are based, within three months of that change being made.

Recommendation 2:

Reports to be produced and presented to DTEWR annually, and to include:

  • Information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress of DPIW in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the Tasmanian Abalone Fishery 2007;
  • 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.

Recommendation 3: Within three years, DPIW, in collaboration with other jurisdictions, to develop and conduct research into abalone biology, particularly in reference to reproductive biology and growth.

Recommendation 4: DPIW to continue to develop fine-scale monitoring of the level of fishing effort in the TAF and implement management measures as required to minimise the risk of localised depletion of abalone stocks.

Recommendation 5: DPIW to develop and implement performance measures and indicators and a clear timetable for the implementation of corresponding management responses in the event that a performance measure is breached to ensure the ecologically sustainable management of the fishery.

Recommendation 6: DPIW to continue to monitor the impact of sea urchin barrens on the abalone fishery. DPIW to consider environmental factors, such as urchin barrens, when setting the TAC annually for the TAF.

Recommendation 7: DPIW, in conjunction with Victoria, to continue to actively monitor the spread of the Ganglioneuritis virus and any other diseases that may impact on abalone stocks. Should Ganglioneuritis impact on wild abalone stocks in Tasmania, DPIW to develop further management responses within one year.