Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery

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

The Hon David Llewellyn MHA
Minister for Primary Industries and Water
5th Floor, Marine Board Building
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 Rock Lobster Fishery (TRLF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). An assessment of the TRLF 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 TRLF 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. He also accredited the Fisheries (Rock Lobster and Giant Crab) Rules 2001 (the TRLF Management Plan) under the relevant protected species provisions of Part 13 of the EPBC Act.

In November 2006 the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (DPIW) submitted the document Reassessment report: Tasmanian Rock Lobster 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 TRLF 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 Heritage website at: http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/assessment/index.html.

The TRLF, in force under the Fisheries (Rock lobster and Giant crab) Rules 2001 was accredited under Part 13 of the EPBC Act in 2002 when it was first assessed. However, the rules have now been changed under the relevant legislation, as outlined in the Fisheries (Rock Lobster) Rules 2006. Due to this change in the management regime, consideration under Part 13 of the EPBC Act is required regarding the impact of the fishery, operating under the new Fisheries (Rock Lobster) Rules 2006, on listed threatened species, listed migratory species, cetaceans and listed marine species.

In view of the relatively low number of protected species interactions reported in the fishery, management measures in place to minimise the risk of interactions and the implementation of a protected species reporting mechanism, I believe it is appropriate to accredit the Tasmanian Fisheries (Rock Lobster) Rules 2006 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 TRLF 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 TRLF 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 the fishery managers will maintain low bycatch levels, minimise interactions with protected species and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this 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 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 Heritage

29th January 2007


Attachment A

Recommendations to the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (DPIW) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery (TRLF)

The TRLF 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;
  • restricted seasons;
  • gear restrictions and requirements;
  • a total allowable catch for the fishery;
  • minimum size limits;
  • the taking of berried females is prohibited; and
  • a comprehensive monitoring regime, including documentation and real time reporting.

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 Heritage (DEH) of any material change to the TRLF 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 DEH 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 Rock Lobster 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; and
  • Research undertaken or completed relevant to the fishery.

Recommendation 3: Within 2 years, DPIW to develop and implement an education program for fishers on species recognition, mitigation measures to minimise interactions and the requirement to accurately report interactions under the EPBC Act.

Recommendation 4: DPIW, in collaboration with industry, to continue to encourage the adoption of programs that minimise protected species interactions and pot loss. DPIW, in collaboration with other jurisdictions, to investigate and implement, where appropriate, the use of seal exclusion devices other than seal spikes to reduce the impact of the fishery on seal species.

Recommendation 5: DPIW to ensure that there is ongoing data collection of bycatch species in the fishery and that bycatch data analysis includes information on temporal and spatial patterns relevant to the TRLF.

Recommendation 6: Within 3 years, DPIW to review the stock assessment model and model predictions for the TRLF to ensure that TAC levels continue to permit significant stock rebuilding for the rock lobster stock. DPIW to consider environmental factors, such as urchin barrens, when setting the TAC annually for the TRLF.

Recommendation 7: DPIW to continue to monitor egg production levels in northern regions and to develop and implement management measures to assist with increasing rock lobster egg production levels in this zone.

Recommendation 8: DPIW to continue to monitor the level of fishing effort in shallow waters and determine whether further management measures are required to decrease fishing pressure on inshore rock lobster stocks.