Tasmanian Octopus Fishery

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 7 July 2006

Hon David Llewellyn
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 Heritage in relation to the assessment of the Tasmanian Octopus Fishery (TOF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). In September 2005 the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE) submitted the document entitled Assessing the ecological sustainability of the Tasmanian Octopus Fishery for assessment under the EPBC Act.

The submission has been assessed for the purposes of 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 Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) website at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/assessment/index.html.

I am satisfied that 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 TOF 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 the operation of the fishery is consistent with the objects of the wildlife trade provisions in Part 13A of the EPBC 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 EPBC 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.

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.

I also propose to include product from this WTO fishery on the List of Exempt Native Specimens (LENS) so that exporters will 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. Please note that the LENS listing excludes any species listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) or under Part 13 of the EPBC Act.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that DPIWE 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 (at 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

7 July 2006


Attachment A

Proposed conditions on the Approved Wildlife Trade Declaration for the Tasmanian Ocotpus Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the Tasmanian Octopus Fishery management regime made under the Tasmanian Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995.
  2. The Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE) to inform DEH of any material change to the Tasmanian Octopus Fishery's management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC Act 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 DPIWE in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the Tasmanian Octopus Fishery 2006;
    • 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 DPIWE on the ecologically sustainable management of the Tasmanian Octopus Fishery

The Tasmanian Octopus Fishery is a relatively well-managed fishery with a range of management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery.

The Tasmanian Octopus Fishery has an adequate management regime including limited entry, gear controls and closed zones 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. DPIWE should action these recommendations before the next review in 2009 or within the timeframe specified in individual recommendations.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1: DPIWE to advise DEH of any material change to the TOF management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.

Recommendation 2: The proposed development of more formal management arrangements for the TOF should provide for the inclusion of commercial and recreational fishers of the octopus fishery and other stakeholders on any relevant fishery management committee and also for their involvement in stock assessment and research priority setting processes.

Recommendation 3: Within 12 months, DPIWE to establish the process and timetable for the review of the TOF, as part of the process of developing more formal management arrangements for the fishery.

Recommendation 4: Within the life of the declaration, or if there is an indication/ decision that further significant commercial development is to occur, DPIWE to conduct a stock assessment for both/ all target species, appropriate to the scale and scope of the fishery and to review the value to the sustainability of the fishery of setting a level of sustainable commercial exploitation for each species, on either a fishery wide or a geographic basis.

Recommendation 5: DPIWE to liaise with all other fishery jurisdictions managing O. pallidus or O. maorum stocks to ensure information exchange and wherever possible complimentary management arrangements.

Recommendation 6: DPIWE to develop, as part of the development of formal management arrangements for the fishery, reference points (limit and/ or reference) and triggers and management response processes.

Recommendation 7: Within 12 months of any information that demonstrates that the TOF is significantly interacting with any endangered, threatened or protected species, DPIWE will develop appropriate measures to mitigate those interactions. Measures should include triggers, reference points and management response processes.