Tasmanian Shellfish Fishery

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, May 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 harvest of native oysters Ostrea angasi from the Tasmanian (TAS) Shellfish Fishery (previously called the TAS Native Oyster Fishery) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). An assessment of the TAS Native Oyster Fishery under the EPBC Act was completed in 2004. As a result of that assessment, the Delegate of the then Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Hon Ian Campbell MP, declared the TAS Native Oyster Fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) under Part 13A of the EPBC Act and included product from the fishery on the List of Exempt Native Specimens (LENS) until 12 May 2007.

In March 2007 the TAS Department of Primary Industries and Water (DPIW) submitted the Fisheries (Shellfish) Rules 2007 (the management plan) and the Shellfish Fishery Policy Document 2007 for the harvest of native oysters from the TAS Shellfish Fishery for consideration of further export approval of native oysters from the fishery. In addition, the 2005 and 2006 Annual Status Reports for the fishery were submitted by DPIW to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources. The DPIW reports, policy document and management plan have been assessed for the purposes of the wildlife trade provisions of Part 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 fishery in 2004 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.

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 take of native oysters from the TAS Shellfish Fishery to be managed in an ecologically sustainable way. I therefore propose to amend the LENS, to include the native oyster (Ostrea angasi) that are, or are derived from, the TAS Shellfish Fishery for a period of five years. Such listing will serve to exempt the take of native oysters from the TAS Shellfish Fishery from the export controls of the EPBC Act, providing the fishery continues not to involve the export of specimens listed under 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 harvest of native oysters from the TAS Shellfish Fishery is relatively low impact that is appropriately precautionary. The combination of management arrangements, data gathering, and nature of the fishery allows confidence that the fishery managers will maintain sustainable harvest rates, low bycatch levels and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.

While there are some environmental risks associated with the harvest of native oysters from the TAS Shellfish Fishery, I believe that 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 take of native oysters from 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]

Andrew McNee
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources

7 May 2007


Attachment A

Recommendations to the Tasmanian (TAS) Department of Primary Industries and Water (DPIW) on the ecologically sustainable management of the harvest of native oysters from the TAS Shellfish Fishery

The take of native oysters from the TAS Shellfish Fishery is well-managed with a range of management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of native oysters from the fishery. These measures include:

  • limited entry (two licence holders);
  • hand harvest;
  • total allowable catch of 6,707 dozen native oysters (2007/08);
  • area restrictions (Georges Bay only);
  • shellfish fishery docket system and pre-fishing reporting.

The following recommendations have been made to further strengthen the effectiveness of the management arrangements for the take of native oysters from the TAS Shellfish 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

  1. DPIW to advise the Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW) of any material change to the TAS ShellFish Fishery management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 decisions are based, within three months of that change being made.
  2. Reports to be produced and presented to DEW annually, and to include:
    1. Information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress of DPIW in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the Harvest of Native Oysters from the Tasmanian Shellfish Fishery 2007; and
    2. A description of the fishery, management arrangements in place, recent catch data for all sectors of the fishery, status of target stock, interactions with protected species, impacts of the fishery on the ecosystem in which it operates and research and monitoring outcomes.

Information should only be provided on those aspects which are relevant to the fishery and that articulate 'changes' since the last annual report.

  1. DPIW to monitor the status of native oysters in relation to reference points. Within 3 months of becoming aware of a reference point being triggered, DPIW to develop a clear timetable for the implementation of appropriate management responses.
  2. By December 2011, DPIW to conduct a survey on the stock structure and density of native oysters on the Main Bed, Eastern Bed and the Akaroa Bed to inform management arrangements, particularly with regards to setting the annual total allowable catch.
  3. DPIW to develop a research strategy for native oysters and implement once resources allow. Research should focus on growth and recruitment of native oysters.