Western Australian Abalone Fishery - Ministerial decision 2004

Ministerial Decision
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 17 August 2004

The Hon Kim Chance MLC
Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
11th Floor, Dumas House
2 Havelock Street
West Perth WA 6005

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the Western Australian Abalone Managed Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In November 2002 the Department of Fisheries Western Australia (DFWA) submitted the document Application to Environment Australia on the Abalone Managed Fishery for assessment under the 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 (DEH) website at: www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/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 Western Australian Abalone Managed Fishery meet the requirements of Part 13 of the Act and I propose to accredit the management plan 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 Western Australian Abalone Managed Fishery, 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 on the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.

The management arrangements for the fishery generally comply with the Australian Government's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The fishery is well managed under a comprehensive, adaptable, precautionary and ecologically based regime capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fishery.

The combination of management arrangements, data gathering, proposed research and monitoring and nature of the fishery allows confidence that the fishery managers will maintain low bycatch levels, minimise interaction with protected species and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that the Western Australian Abalone Managed Fishery is addressing them adequately. Officers from our two departments have discussed key areas requiring ongoing attention. I understand that officers from both our Departments have agreed to a number of recommended actions, focusing on ensuring the continuation of good management practices, to be implemented before the next Australian Government review of the fishery. These recommendations, attached to the letter, 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 and I look forward to reviewing the remainder of the Western Australia managed fisheries.

Yours sincerely


Ian Cresswell
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

17th August 2004

Recommendations to the Department of Fisheries Western Australia on the ecologically sustainable management of the Western Australian Abalone Fishery

The Western Australian Abalone Managed Fishery is a well-managed fishery with a range of significant management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery. These measures include:

  • A range input and output controls for the target species;
  • A range of reviewable management objectives and performance measures and indicators contained within the ESD report for the fishery;
  • A comprehensive fisheries dependant catch monitoring, disposal and reconciliation regime;
  • A sound annual stock assessment process;
  • Highly targeted fishing methods with negligible interactions with non-target species and the surrounding marine ecosystem.

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. DFWA should action these recommendations before the next review in 2009.

  1. DFWA to ensure, where appropriate, that any relevant community, conservation and recreational interests in the fishery are considered through consultative mechanisms.
  2. DFWA, in its annual State of the Fisheries Report, to report on the performance of the fishery against performance measures that relate to the ecological sustainability of the fishery.
  3. DFWA, in consultation with other abalone fishery agencies, to further develop appropriate biological parameters and reference points for abalone harvesting within the WA abalone performance assessment system, and pursue with other agencies a national process for developing, adopting and reviewing these performance indicators, and for periodically reviewing abalone stock assessment processes.
  4. The ESD report, including all performance measures, responses and information requirements, to be formally incorporated into the management regime and decision making process.
  5. If there is a breach in a performance measure, this will be reported in the State of the Fisheries Report. If a breach materially affects the sustainability of the target species or negatively impacts on byproduct, bycatch, protected species or the habitat, the breach will be reported to the Minister for Fisheries within 3 months for subsequent management review and action with timeframes for implementation.
  6. DFWA to advise DEH of any material change to the fishery's legislated management plan and/or arrangements that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
  7. DFWA, within 2 years, to develop and implement enhanced fishery independent monitoring programs across the fishery, representative of species distribution and catch across the various Areas of the fishery, to improve the understanding of the relevant stock structures and abundance. Data from the independent monitoring programs should also be used to inform the further development of reference points and performance indicators required under Recommendation 3.
  8. DFWA within 2 years to further develop biological sampling programs, representative of species distribution and catch across all Areas of the fishery, to provide the necessary data to inform the range of biological performance measures developed in accordance with Recommendation 3 and enhance the stock assessment process.
  9. DFWA to take account of all abalone removals, including best estimates of recreational and illegal harvesting, in the stock assessment process and the determination of the annual TACC.
  10. DFWA to investigate and establish, over the next 3 years, appropriate decision rules or strategies, relevant to the scale of management required, to prevent serial depletion of brownlip and greenlip abalone stocks in the fishery.
  11. DFWA to work with other jurisdictions to develop effective strategies and response measures to quantify and reduce the extent of illegal take of abalone in WA.
  12. DFWA to provide a mechanism which allows fishers to record interactions with protected/listed species.