Tasmanian Scalaris Abalone Fishery

Ministerial Decision
Ian Cresswell, 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

I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the Tasmanian Scalaris Abalone Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In January 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 Scalaris Abalone (Haliotis scalaris) 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 website at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/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 would 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.

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 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 (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]

Ian Cresswell
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

17 February 2005



Proposed conditions on the approved wildlife trade declaration for the Tasmanian Scalaris Abalone Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the Tasmanian Scalaris Abalone 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 Scalaris Abalone Fishery's management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC 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 Scalaris Abalone Fishery 2005;
    • 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.

Recommendations in relation to the Tasmanian Sclaris Abalone Fishery

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

The Tasmanian Scalaris Abalone Fishery has an adequate management regime including limited entry, total allowable catch limits, closed zones and gear 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 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 2008 or within the timeframe specified in individual recommendations.

Recommendations

  1. DPIWE to advise DEH of any material change to the Tasmanian Scalaris Abalone Fishery's management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
  2. DPIWE to ensure that all interested stakeholders, including conservation groups and research organisations, are consulted about all relevant aspects of the fishery's management.
  3. By the end of 2006, DPIWE to develop performance indicators and performance measures for the fishery objectives relating to the ecologically sustainable management of the fishery as outlined in the management regime for the Tasmanian Scalaris Abalone Fishery.
  4. DPIWE to progressively implement the research program developed for the fishery and, if the fishery progresses beyond the developmental phase, develop a detailed timeline for the formal implementation of the research program.
  5. DPIWE to analyse the risk of localised depletion in the fishery, and if significant risk is detected, develop and implement management measures to mitigate the impacts of localised depletion.