Exmouth Gulf Prawn Fishery - Ministerial decision 2003

Ministerial Decision
David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 12 March 2003

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

Dear Minister

In November 2001 the Western Australian Department of Fisheries (DFWA) submitted the document Application to Department of the Environment and Heritage for the Exmouth Gulf Fishery Against the Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries for Continued Listing on Section 303DB of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 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 fishery is now complete. The assessment report will be available on the DEH website at: www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html.

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 all specimens taken in the Exmouth Gulf Prawn Fishery, for a period of five years. Such listing will serve to exempt the fishery from other export controls of the Act and exempt exporters from requiring export permits under the Act.

The Exmouth Gulf Prawn Fishery management arrangements meet the Commonwealth's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The fishery is 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 and research commitments provides confidence in the fishery's ability to manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.

While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that DFWA is taking a proactive approach to mitigating these risks and addressing them adequately. Officers from our two departments have discussed some key areas requiring ongoing attention. I understand that they have agreed to a number of recommended actions, focussed on ensuring the continuation of good management practices. The recommendations, attached to this letter, have been an important factor in my decision to exempt the fishery and I look forward to receiving your agreement to implement these recommendations.

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 Australian managed fisheries.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

David Kemp
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

12 March 2003

Recommendations to the Department of Fisheries Western Australia on the ecologically sustainable management of the Exmouth Gulf Prawn Fishery

  1. The ESD report, including all performance measures, responses and information requirements, should be formally incorporated into the management regime and decision making process within one year, with a clear timeframe for implementation.
  2. The ESD report should be amended to incorporate time frames for all management responses to breaches of performance measures.
  3. A mechanism should be developed to enable the amendment of management arrangements to respond to new information, or future Government plans and policies.
  4. EA should be informed of any changes to the management plan or managerial commitments in the ESD report.
  5. Opportunity should be provided to conservation, community and recreational fishing interests to participate in the processes of the main advisory body to the WA Fisheries Minister for this fishery. DFWA should also ensure that any relevant indigenous interests are considered through appropriate consultative mechanisms.
  6. Permitted byproduct should be limited to species currently harvested with a robust system developed to add or remove species as appropriate. Suitable catch triggers should be developed to ensure any change in targeting behaviour can be detected and addressed as it occurs. Management responses should be clarified, with timeframes for implementation, to address such changes, so that the management arrangements are able to minimise threats to byproduct species.
  7. DFWA should participate in any cross-jurisdictional activities regarding relevant target and byproduct species, including squid.
  8. Ongoing monitoring should be implemented sufficient to identify long-term trends in bycatch between fished and unfished areas to ensure that information used in the risk assessment for the fishery remains based on accurate and current data.
  9. The importance of specific areas and habitats to applicable bycatch species during all stages of their life cycle should be considered when applying the results of the biodiversity research to management arrangements.
  10. All protected species interactions by commercial operations should be reported and coupled with an education program to ensure industry has the capacity to make accurate reports.