Tasmanian Scallop Fishery

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate for the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 27 November 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 Scallop Fishery (TSF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). In June 2005 the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE) submitted the document entitled Assessing the Ecological Sustainability of the Tasmanian Scallop Fishery: Application to the Department of Environment and Heritage for Approval of the Tasmanian Scallop Fishery under Schedule 4 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, 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 website at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/tas/scallop/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 TSF 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 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 list of exempt native specimens, to include specimens that are, or are derived from, fish taken in the TSF 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, 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 TSF 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 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. 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]

Andrew McNee
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

27 November 2005


Attachment A

Recommendations to the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Tasmanian Scallop Fishery (TSF)

The TSF 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:

  • a Total Allowable Commercial Catch and Individual Transferable Quotas;
  • limited entry, with 92 current licences;
  • a requirement to hold a scallop fishing entitlement;
  • gear restrictions;
  • spatial management with controlled release of open areas and closed areas; and
  • a minimum size limit on scallops.

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. DPIWE should action these recommendations before the next review in 2010.

Recommendations

  1. DPIWE to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage of any material change to the fishery's management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
  2. DPIWE to work with the relevant jurisdictions to actively pursue consistent and/or complementary management arrangements for the commercial scallop stock off south-east Australia, where appropriate.
  3. By the end of 2006, DPIWE to develop fishery specific objectives to guide ecologically sustainable harvest of byproduct species and to minimise interactions with protected species. As part of the review of the "Tasmanian Scallop Fishery Policy Document - June 2000", or by no later than December 2006, DPIWE to also develop performance indicators and performance measures, linked to the existing and new objectives, for target and byproduct species, protected species interactions and ecosystem impacts.
  4. DPIWE to monitor the status of the fishery in relation to the performance measures once developed. Within 3 months of becoming aware of a performance measure not being met, DPIWE to commence a review and finalise a clear timetable for the implementation of appropriate management responses, where appropriate.
  5. From 2006, DPIWE to report publicly on the status of the fishery on an annual basis, including explicit reporting against each performance measure once developed.
  6. DPIWE to review the harvesting strategy employed in the TSF to ensure that it is adequately precautionary. DPIWE should consider the available scientific information regarding maintaining spatially distributed scallop beds and the impacts of fishing of the southeast Australian scallop stock. Notably, DPIWE should consider the recommendations of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project titled "Juvenile Scallop Trashing Rates and Bed Dynamics: Testing the Management Rules for Scallops in Bass Strait". DPIWE to also take into account the cumulative impacts of fishing on the entire scallop stock targeted in southeast Australia as relevant information becomes available.
  7. To support the implementation of the Protected Species Interaction Monthly Record DPIWE, within 12 months, to develop and implement an education program for fishers to promote the importance of protected species protection and accurate incident reporting.
  8. Should new information determine that the fishery is having significant interactions with any endangered, threatened or protected species, DPIWE to develop appropriate measures to mitigate those interactions. Measures should be implemented within 12 months of the information becoming available.
  9. DPIWE to review the current management regime within the TSF to ensure that it takes account of ecosystem impacts, in particular:
    • high risk impacts of fishing identified through ecological risk assessments relevant to the fishery;
    • important juvenile/spawning/refuge grounds identified for byproduct and protected species; and
    • the impacts of fishing on benthic habitats.

During the review DPIWE is to liaise with the Victorian Department of Primary Industries and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and consider information relating to the risk assessment of their respective fisheries.