Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery - Ministerial decision 2005

Ministerial Decision
Andrew McNee, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, November 2005

The Hon Jon Ford MLC
Minister for Fisheries
14th Floor, May Holman Centre
32 St George's Terrace
PERTH WA 6000

Dear Minister

I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery (CKIMAFF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). In July 2005 the Western Australian Department of Fisheries (DFWA) submitted the document entitled Draft Application to the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery 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: www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/wa/cocos-aquarium/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 CKIMAFF 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 CKIMAFF, 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 CKIMAFF is a small scale, 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 interaction with protected species and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that DFWA 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, 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.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

Andrew McNee
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

7 November 2005

Recommendations to the Western Australian Department of Fisheries (DFWA) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery (CKIMAFF)

The CKIMAFF 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:

  • limit on species permitted to be harvested;
  • limit on the total number of individuals of all species combined that can be harvested in a year (4000);
  • limit on the number of individuals within a Family that can be harvested within a year (2000);
  • limited number of permits (1);
  • gear restrictions; and
  • area restrictions.

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 2010.

Recommendations

  1. DFWA to advise DEH of any material change to the CKIMAFF's legislated management regime that could affect the criteria on which EPBC Act decisions are based, within three months of that change being made.
  2. As part of the review of current management arrangements, DFWA to develop precautionary performance indicators and performance measures for the main target species taken in the CKIMAFF, linked to existing objectives.
  3. DFWA, in its annual report to the Australian Government Department of Transport and Regional Services, to report on the performance of the CKIMAFF against performance measures that relate to the sustainability of the fishery, once developed, and to forward the information to DEH .
  4. As part of the review of current management arrangements, DFWA to implement the recording of fishing activity location, to an appropriate scale, in compulsory logbooks.
  5. By the end of June 2006, DFWA to conduct a review of the current management arrangements for the CKIMAFF and develop a timeline for the implementation of proposed changes to the permit conditions for the fishery.