Pilbara Trap Fishery - Ministerial decision 2004

Ministerial Decision
Ian Creswell, 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 St
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 Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery (PTMF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In April 2004 the Department of Fisheries, Western Australia (DFWA) submitted the document entitled Final Application to the Department of the Environment and Heritage on the Pilbara Trap 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 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/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 PTMF meet the requirements of Part 13 of the 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 the operation of the fishery is consistent with the objects of the wildlife trade provisions in Part 13A of the Act. I am also satisfied that it is unlikely to be detrimental to the survival or conservation status of any taxon to which the fishery operation relates, or threaten any relevant ecosystem. The fishery is relatively well managed and operates under an adaptable and precautionary regime capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fishery. Performance against the Australian Government Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries is adequate, however there are a number of issues that need to be addressed to contain environmental risks in the longer term. Hence, I propose to declare the fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO), under Part 13A of the Act. This declaration would allow the export of product from the fishery for the next three years. I will make the declaration subject to the conditions at Attachment A.

I also propose to include product from this WTO fishery on the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that exporters would not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery would continue to operate as a WTO for the period of the declaration (3 years) and all WTO conditions would continue to apply.

The management regime aims to ensure that fishing is conducted in a manner that does not lead to over-fishing and for fishing operations to be managed to minimise their impact on the structure, productivity, function and biological diversity of the ecosystem. On balance, the fishery is being managed in an ecologically sustainable manner and is working to address existing problems and to minimise environmental risks.

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 review of the fishery. The recommendations (Attachment B) have been an important factor in my decision to declare the fishery a WTO 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]

Ian Cresswell
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

11th November 2004

Proposed conditions on the approved wildlife trade declaration for the Pilbara Trap Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery Management Plan 1992 in force under the Western Australian Fish Resources Management Act 1994;
  2. The Department of Fisheries, Western Australia (DFWA) will inform the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any material change to the fishery's legislated management plan and/or arrangements that could affect the criteria on which the EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of the change being made;
  3. Reports to be produced and presented to DEH annually, and to include:
    • information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress of DFWA in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery 2004;
    • A description of the status of the fishery and catch and effort information;
    • A statement of the performance of the fishery against objectives, performance indicators and measures once developed; and
    • Research undertaken or completed relevant to the fishery.

Recommendations to the Department of Fisheries, Western Australia (DFWA) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Pilbara Trap Fishery

The Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery (PTMF) is a relatively well-managed fishery with a range of significant management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery.

The PTMF has an adequate management regime including a range of input and output controls and objectives, performance indicators and performance measures, sound fishery dependant catch and effort data collection system, limits on fishing effort and relatively benign fishing methods that should enable the fishery to continue to be ecologically sustainable in the short to medium term. Stocks are not currently overfished and management arrangements provide the basis to ensure that fishing is conducted in a manner that will not lead to over-fishing.

While the fishery is relatively well managed, a number of risks and uncertainties that must be managed to ensure that their impacts are minimised have been identified. The following recommendations aim to address these risks and uncertainties. DFWA should action these recommendations before the next review in 2007 or within the timeframe specified in individual recommendations.

Recommendations

  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 3 months of the change being made.
  2. DFWA to ensure, where appropriate, that any relevant indigenous, conservation, world heritage and recreational interests in the fishery are considered through consultative mechanisms.
  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 major byproduct species or species groups. DFWA, within 1 year, to also incorporate into the management regime, an objective to minimise protected/listed species interactions, to minimise or maintain at sustainable levels the take of other non-retained species and to minimise impacts on the marine environment.>
  5. 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.
  6. DFWA to review the fishery monitoring and research information needs and priorities to meet the stock assessment and management information requirements for the demersal finfish fisheries in the Pilbara region, and develop a research strategy to address and implement priority needs.
  7. DFWA to review the status of goldband snapper stocks in the Pilbara region and work towards more refined yield estimates for this species. In the interim, by the end of 2006, DFWA to implement a precautionary performance measure for goldband snapper to apply to all commercial demersal finfish fisheries across the Pilbara region.
  8. 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.
  9. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia 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.