Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery

Ministerial Decision
David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 5 February 2002

The Hon David Llewellyn MHA
Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment
1st Floor Franklin Square Offices
Hobart TAS 7000

Dear Minister

In May 2001 your Department submitted the document Assessing the ecological sustainability of the Tasmanian rock lobster fishery for assessment under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982. This Act has now been superseded by amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The fishery has been assessed firstly, to determine whether the fishery should be exempt from the export controls of Part 13 A of the Act, and secondly to determine whether the fishery should be accredited for the purposes of the protected species provisions of Part 13 of the Act. The latter assessment is required because the fishery takes place in part in Commonwealth waters.

I am pleased to advise that assessment of the fishery is now complete and that southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) taken in the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery will be exempt from the export controls of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for a further five years. I have also accredited the management plan for the purposes of Part 13 of the Act so that individual fishers in this fishery will not be required to seek permits if they are at risk of taking protected species in Commonwealth waters. The assessment report is available on the EA web site at the following address: http://www.ea.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html.

On balance I am satisfied that the fishery is managed in such a way that there is a low risk that there will be a significant environmental impact. I therefore consider that the fishery is managed in an ecologically sustainable way. I have however made a number of recommendations for actions that should be undertaken prior to the next review in five years time (attached). I understand these recommendations have been agreed between officials.

I suggest our respective departments agree a timetable for implementation of these recommendations to ensure that they are implemented smoothly.

I would like to thank you for the constructive way in which your officials have approached this task and I look forward to reviewing the remainder of your export fisheries prior to December 2003.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

David Kemp
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

5th February 2002


Recommendations to Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries Water and Environment on the ecologically sustainable management of the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery

Recommendation 1. A dialogue should commence between all fisheries jurisdictions managing Jasus edwardsii to ensure that a) management arrangements are complementary in the sense that minimum levels of egg production and biomass are protected; b) the activities in each jurisdiction that are likely to impact on the fishery in another jurisdiction are explicitly taken into account in stock assessments and in devising the management triggers and responses for individual jurisdictions; and c) if feasible, working towards joint stock assessment would be a significant step towards harmonising management arrangements.

Recommendation 2. The compliance and enforcement strategy should be periodically reviewed to ensure emerging compliance risks are identified and addressed.

Recommendation 3. Representation in the fishery assessment process should be increased to strengthen representation from conservation or community interests. Consideration should also be given to broader public notification of the potential to input into the assessment process. The existing stock assessment process would be further strengthened by periodic external peer review.

Recommendation 4. DPIWE should continue to monitor the situation with respect to the harvest of immature females in the northern part of the fishery to ensure any reductions in egg production or puerulus settlement are detected in a timely manner and develop a management response for implementation in the event that a major issue develops.

Recommendation 5. In the event that a review is triggered by a breach of the performance measures the management plan should require that action must be taken to return the fishery to a stage where it will satisfy the management objectives if the review establishes that the management regime is under-performing.

Recommendation 6. Stock assessment processes should Incorporate, if not already done, a risk assessment into the ecological impact of the potential skew in sex ratio caused by a longer fishing season on males, with a view to developing appropriate management arrangements (triggers and responses) should the skew in sex ratio present a sustainability issue.

Recommendation 7. DPIWE should develop and provide, as part of the public review process for the management arrangements for the Tasmanian rock lobster fishery in 2005, an assessment of the options for system-based management objectives and associated biological reference, target and limit levels and performance measures for application in the fishery.

Recommendation 8. An analysis of measures to encourage the accuracy of byproduct reporting should be conducted with a view to improving data collection, assessment and management responses.

Recommendation 9. Mechanisms should be developed to ensure better recording of bycatch in the fishery. A more formal assessment of the risks posed to bycatch species should be carried out before the next assessment to confirm assumptions relating to low risk of having a significant impact on species making up the bycatch for this fishery. Risk assessments could include the vulnerability of various bycatch species; a qualitative assessment on survivorship of animals returned to the water; and identification of areas or times of high bycatch incidence.

Recommendation 10. A structured reporting and monitoring program into interactions with protected species should be developed as high priority. If this program suggests interactions occur more frequently than previously thought, mitigation measures, including trigger and reference points, should be introduced to reduce interactions. DPIWE are strongly encouraged to investigate the use of seal spikes or other appropriate as a precautionary measure.

Recommendation 10. DPIWE should establish a program monitoring fished and unfished areas in the fishery with a view to identifying changes in the wider marine environment which may be a result of the fishery.