South Coast Crustacean Fishery - Ministerial decision 2004

Ministerial Decision
Ian Campbell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 17 September 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 South Coast Crustacean Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In July 2004 the Department of Fisheries, Western Australia (DoF) submitted the document entitled Final Application to the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage on the South Coast Crustacean 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/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 South Coast Crustacean Fishery 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 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 ecologically based 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.

In making my decision I had particular regard to DoF's commitment to integrate and strengthen the separate sets of management arrangements into a single cohesive management plan for the fishery. I am also aware that the Crystal crab component of the fishery is currently closed to fishing while substantial research into the Crystal crab resource is completed and management arrangements to control the harvest of the specious are developed. I welcome DoF's efforts to improve understanding of the resource and implement appropriately precautionary management arrangements. Given the timing of the management planning process and research on Crystal crab, I strongly urge DoF to incorporate issues raised through recommendations in the planning process and in developing any new management arrangements for the fishery.

Given the management arrangements specified in the submission, the relatively benign method of fishing and the current ban on harvesting Crystal crabs, the fishery should continue to operate in an ecologically sustainable manner in the short 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. The management regime also aims to ensure that fishing is conducted in a manner that minimises 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 DoF 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 and I look forward to reviewing the remainder of the Western Australian managed fisheries.

Yours sincerely

[Signed]

Ian Cresswell
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

17th September 2004

Proposed conditions on the approved wildlife trade declaration for the South Coast Crustacean Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the Western Australian South Coast Crustacean Fishery management regime in force under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 and Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995;
  2. The Department of Fisheries, Western Australia (DoF) will inform the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any material change to the legislated management regime that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that 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 DoF in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the South Coast Crustacean 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 (DoF) on the ecologically sustainable management of the South Coast Crustacean Fishery

The South Coast Crustacean Fishery (SCCF) is a relatively well-managed fishery with a range of significant management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery.

DEH recognises that because the SCCF has only recently drawn together four small separate established fisheries, its management arrangements are in a transitional state, which will shortly be replaced by a single integrated management plan. DEH welcomes the commitment to develop a consolidated management plan for the fishery that will take into account the requirements expressed through the recommendations presented below. In leading the management planning process, DoF has made considerable progress in developing sound management arrangements. Of particular note is the precautionary approach adopted in relation to the harvest of Crystal crab and the conservative minimum size limits applied across the fishery. DEH also notes that the fishing gear used and the limited number of operators active across a large fishery area provide added confidence that the fishery does not pose a significant environmental risk in the short term.

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. DoF should action these recommendations before the next review in 2007 or within the timeframe specified in individual recommendations.

Recommendations

  1. The ESD Report, including all performance measures, responses and information requirements to be incorporated into the management regime and decision making process.
  2. DoF to advise DEH of any material change to the fishery's legislated management regime that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
  3. DoF to ensure, where appropriate, that any relevant recreational and conservation interests in the fishery are considered through consultative mechanisms. In particular, in consolidating management arrangements for the sectors of the fishery and in the development of the proposed management plan, objectives, performance indicators and measures, DoF to specifically seek participation by conservation and recreational interests.
  4. By December 2006, DoF to develop fishery specific objectives linked to performance indicators and performance measures for Southern rock lobster and all target deep-sea crab species and key by-product species. DoF 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. DoF to conduct, within 12 months, a compliance risk assessment to determine the most effective use of resources and to specify the measures needed to ensure adequate compliance with the management regime. Within two years, DoF to develop and implement a compliance strategy for the fishery that includes clear management actions and the means of measuring the performance of the strategy on a defined and regular basis.
  6. DoF, 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.
  7. DoF to review the research information needs and priorities to meet the management information, stock assessment and performance measurement needs of the fishery. Analysis of research needs should take into account any gaps in the basic biological parameters required for stock assessment of southern rock lobster and the deep-sea crab species and the need to examine the appropriateness of the current legal minimum size limit for Southern Rock Lobster. DoF to develop a research strategy to address identified priority areas and explore ways to cooperatively share in or take advantage of research done in adjacent fisheries with shared stocks.
  8. DoF to ensure that management arrangements to control the take of deep-sea crab stocks in the West Coast Deep Sea Crab Fishery and South Coast Crustacean Fishery provide consistent management arrangements for the species.. In addition, DoF to pursue opportunities to actively engage with other relevant jurisdictions in pursuit of collaborative or complementary management and research of shared rock lobster stocks.
  9. By December 2006, DoF to review effort levels in the fishery and develop a strategy to ensure that fishery effort is managed at precautionary levels appropriate to the size of the rock lobster and deep-sea crab resources.
  10. As part of the review of the fishery, DoF to assess the adequacy of monitoring and assessment arrangements for detecting change and trends in bycatch composition and quantity.

DoF to provide a mechanism, which allows fishers to record interactions with protected/listed species. DoF to implement an education program to ensure that industry has the capacity to make these reports at an appropriate level of accuracy.