Western Australian Mackerel Fishery - Ministerial decision 2004

Ministerial Decision
Ian Cresswell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 11 November 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 Mackerel Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In June 2004 the Department of Fisheries Western Australia (DFWA) submitted the document Final Application to the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage on the WA Mackerel 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/assessment/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 Mackerel 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 Mackerel 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 DFWA is addressing them adequately. Officers from our two departments have discussed key areas requiring ongoing attention. I understand that they 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

[signed]

Ian Cresswell
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

11 November 2004

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

The Western Australian Mackerel 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;
  • 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 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 three months of that change being made.
  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 sustainability of the fishery.
  3. The ESD Report, including all performance measures, responses and information requirements to be incorporated into the management regime and decision making process.
  4. DFWA, within 2 years, to incorporate into the management regime fishery specific objectives, performance indicators and performance measures for byproduct species or species groups and for bycatch. DFWA, within 1 year, to also incorporate into the management regime objectives to minimise interactions with protected/listed species and to minimise impacts on the marine environment.
  5. DFWA to ensure, where appropriate, that any relevant charter boat, conservation and recreational interests in the fishery are considered through consultative mechanisms.
  6. DFWA to develop a compliance strategy for the WAMF. The strategy will provide for periodic review and explicitly address the effectiveness of the input regime, the proposed ITQ regime and those controls applying to the recreational sector.
  7. DFWA to review monitoring and research needs and priorities to meet the stock assessment and management information requirements for the WAMF. DFWA to also develop a monitoring and research strategy to address priority needs, including stock assessment research needs for Spanish and Grey mackerels.
  8. Within 18 months, DFWA to develop a process to improve estimates of recreational take, particularly in the West Coast and factor these into stock assessments and management controls to ensure overall catch levels are sustainable.
  9. DFWA to review the effectiveness of measures to control recreational catch of Spanish mackerel, particularly in the West Coast to ensure that these measures are appropriate and adequately constrain recreational effort. Should the review indicate that existing measures are not appropriate, DFWA will initiate new measures within 12 months of that finding.
  10. DFWA to develop and implement, within 18 months, a robust system to validate fishery dependent data on catch and effort for all target and byproduct species.
  11. DFWA to implement a system to improve the identification and recording of elasmobranch species taken as byproduct in the WAMF.
  12. DFWA will provide a mechanism by which fishers are able to record interactions with those non-retained species that are at risk from the fishery.
  13. DFWA to provide a mechanism, which allows fishers to record interactions with protected/listed species. DFWA to implement an education program to ensure that industry has the capacity to make these reports at an appropriate level of accuracy.