Western Australian South Coast Trawl 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 the Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage regarding the assessment of the Western Australian South Coast Trawl Fishery (SCTF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The current export exemption for the SCTF expires on 1 December 2005. The Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) advised the Department of Fisheries Western Australia (DFWA) in July 2003 of its concerns regarding the lack of management arrangements in the SCTF and the fact that the current management arrangements did not adequately address the Australian Government Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries (the Guidelines). At this time, DFWA advised DEH that they were intending to review the management arrangements for the SCTF. DEH notes that some progress has been made on this regard, in terms of a discussion paper entitled Management of the proposed South Coast Trawl Fishery, which was released in August 2005 and is currently open for public comment.

However, given the management arrangements have not been altered since 2003, DEH's original concerns with the current inability of the management arrangements to meet the Guidelines, and therefore the requirements of the EPBC Act, remain. DEH's main areas of concern relate to there being no catch or effort limits for target or byproduct species, no size limits for saucer scallops, no protection of juvenile scallop beds, no gear restrictions in the fishery, no assessment of the target stock status and a lack of fishery-specific data on bycatch and protected species interactions. Given this advice, I believe that I am not in a position to make a long term decision in relation to the SCTF as currently managed.

I am satisfied that, subject to the implementation of the conditions set out in Attachment A, the current management of the fishery is such that it complies with the requirements of the EPBC Act sufficiently to be declared an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) for a short term period of 3 months and to be accredited for protected species interactions. Please note that the WTO declaration is subject to the conditions at Attachment A and that if any condition is not met, the Minister is compelled under the EPBC Act to revoke the declaration.

I have also decided to include product from the SCTF WTO on the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that exporters will not require EPBC Act export permits. The fishery will continue to operate as a WTO for the 3 month period of the declaration and all WTO conditions will continue to apply.

I appreciate that the development of a full set of management arrangements for the SCTF may take some time, however I urge you to consider implementing a formal management regime that improves the ecological sustainability of the SCTF within the next 3 months, in order for the fishery to maintain export approval. DEH intends to submit a full submission on the discussion paper currently open for public comment by 16 December 2005, to advise DFWA of the requirements of the EPBC Act and the Guidelines and how the SCTF's management arrangements may be modified to better address these.

I trust that you will ensure that industry participants are made aware of the status of export approval for this fishery and the requirements for the continuation of the export of product from the fishery.

Yours sincerely

Andrew McNee
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

November 2005

Attachment A

Conditions on the Wildlife Trade Operation Declaration for the Western Australian South Coast Trawl Fishery

  1. Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the management regime in force under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994.
  2. The Department of Fisheries Western Australia (DFWA) to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any material change to the South Coast Trawl Fishery's management arrangements that could affect the criteria on which Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) decisions are based.
  3. DFWA to develop formal management arrangements for the South Coast Trawl Fishery, that improve the ecological sustainability of the fishery.
  4. DFWA to report on progress in implementing revised management arrangements for the South Coast Trawl Fishery to DEH by 27 January 2006.