Victorian Developmental Jellyfish Fishery - Ministerial decision 2003

Ministerial Decision
Ian Cresswell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 19 March 2003

Executive Director
Fisheries Victoria
PO Box 500
East Melbourne VIC 3002

Dear Executive Director

In October 2002 the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) submitted the document Developmental Fisheries Management Plan: Jellyfish (Catostylus mosaicus) 2003 - 2005 for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The submission has been assessed in accordance with the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the EPBC Act.

I am pleased to advise that assessment of the Victorian Developmental Jellyfish Fishery (VJF) is now complete. The assessment report will be available on the DEH website at: www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html.

The report and the associated management arrangements have been assessed by Department of the Environment and Heritage (EA) against the Commonwealth's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries (the Guidelines). EA's assessment is that the management regime for the VJF, as set out in the management arrangements, is consistent with the objects of Part 13A. EA is satisfied that the fishery will not be detrimental to the survival or conservation status of the jellyfish Catostylus mosaicus. Similarly, it is not likely to threaten any relevant ecosystem. As delegate for the Minster I therefore intend to declare the fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) with the actions specified in the assessment recommendations as conditions to the declaration. This declaration would be effective for a period of three years.

The risk of this fishery being unsustainable for the target species or impacting significantly on the ecosystem is minimal. However officers from our two divisions have discussed some key areas requiring ongoing attention. I understand that they have agreed to a number of recommended actions, focussing on ensuring a precautionary approach due to the potential of the VJF to expand. The recommendations, attached to this letter, have been an important factor in deciding to declare the fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation.

I would like to thank you for the constructive way in which your officials have approached this task and I look forward to working with you on the remainder of the Victorian managed fisheries.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

Ian Cresswell
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

19 March 2003

Recommendations to the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment on the ecologically sustainable management of the Victorian Developmental Jellyfish Fishery

Recommendation 1. The review of the ecological sustainability of the VJF to be provided to EA annually.

Recommendation 2. From 2003 the review of the ecological sustainability of the VJF is to include:

  • Analysis of any reported interactions, or observances of, protected species in the fishery; and
  • Information collected by the monitoring and reporting of any bycatch activity by permit holders in the fishery.

Recommendation 3. Clearer performance indicators, associated reference points and management responses to be developed and implemented in the fishery within two years.

Recommendation 4. The management plan to incorporate an aim to minimise the impact on the structure, productivity, function and biological diversity of the ecosystem within the life of the current management plan.

Recommendation 5. EA to be informed of any changes to the developmental fishery management plan.

Recommendation 6. A mechanism is to be developed to enable the amendment of management arrangements to respond to new information, or future Government plans and policies within the life of the current management plan.

Recommendation 7. Stock biomass estimates of Western Port Bay, Corner Inlet and Gippsland Lakes to be completed by the end of 2004 and be fed into the adaptive management plan.

Recommendation 8. Further research into the biology of Catostylus mosaicus to be conducted by 2005. In particular, focus to be given to causes of annual variation, ecosystem role of C. mosaicus and reproductive biology of C. mosaicus.

Recommendation 9. Mortality of the VJF C. mosaicus stocks due to bycatch in other fisheries is to be estimated and incorporated in the setting of catch limits under the adaptive management plan.

Recommendation 10. NRE to develop the adaptive management plan and forward it to the Minister for approval by the end of 2003. The plan should then be implemented for the 2004 season.

Recommendation 11. The priority research projects identified in the management plan to be completed in the next three years. These include: the monitoring of bycatch and reporting of other species in areas of conglomeration; investigating the diet of jellyfish and drawing inferences as to the effects of jellyfish removal on populations of prey species; and reproduction and polyp stage dynamics. EA to be regularly updated on the progress of the research projects.

Recommendation 12. An investigation of the ecological impact of the fishery to be carried out in 2004.