Tasmanian Marine Aquarium Fishery

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate for the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 17 February 2005

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

Dear Minister

As Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, I am writing to you in relation to the assessment of the Tasmanian Marine Aquarium Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In July 2005 the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE) submitted the document entitled Application for Declaration as an Approved Wildlife Trade Operation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999: Export of Marine Aquarium Fish from Tasmanian Waters for assessment under the Act.

The submission has been assessed for 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 (DEH) website at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/tas/marine-aquarium/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 will not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery will continue to operate as a WTO for the period of the declaration (3 years) and all WTO conditions will 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 DPIWE is committed to addressing these issues. 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

2 August 2005



Conditions on the approved wildlife trade declaration for the Tasmanian Marine Aquarium Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery is to be carried out in accordance with the current Tasmanian Marine Aquarium Fishery management regime, which is managed by the Tasmanian Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995.
  2. DPIWE to advise DEH of any material change to the Tasmanian Marine Aquarium Fishery legislated management regime and/or arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within three months of that change being made.
  3. DPIWE to report annually to DEH on:
    1. The extent to which the performance criteria of the Tasmanian Marine Aquarium Fishery management regime were met in the year.
    2. The progress of DPIWE in implementing the recommendations for the Tasmanian Marine Aquarium Fishery.

This declaration expires on 15 August 2008.


Recommendations to DPIWE on the ecologically sustainable management of the Tasmanian Marine Aquarium Fishery

The Tasmanian Marine Aquarium Fishery (TMAF) is a developmental fishery that is relatively well-managed 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 an exploratory research stage and that DPIWE have committed to implementing more formal management arrangements should the fishery progress. 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 TMAF has an adequate management regime including limited entry, annual catch limits and gear and area restrictions 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 TMAF 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. DPIWE should action these recommendations before the next review in 2008 or within the timeframe specified in individual recommendations.

Recommendations

  1. DPIWE to develop and implement precautionary reference points and a clear timetable for the implementation of corresponding management responses, sufficient to trigger a response to major changes in harvest of the target species.
  2. DPIWE to conduct an ecological risk assessment appropriate to the scale of the fishery within 1 year of all 5 permit holders becoming active or when catch levels increase substantially for key target species (as indicated by the precautionary reference points to be developed for the fishery). DPIWE to develop appropriate responses to any high risks identified.
  3. Within one year, DPIWE to develop a timeline for the implementation of proposed changes to the management regime for the TMAF, as outlined in the DPIWE submission.