Biodiversity Theme Report

Australia State of the Environment Report 2001 (Theme Report)
Prepared by: Dr Jann Williams, RMIT University, Authors
Published by CSIRO on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2001
ISBN 0 643 06749 3

Biodiversity Issues and Challenges (continued)

Disturbance Regimes and Biodiversity (continued)

Harvesting

  • Harvesting of native wildlife [BD Indicators 8.1 and 8.2]
  • State and territory-based policies and programs
  • Harvesting under Commonwealth government legislation
  • Management plans for sustainable harvesting [BD Indicator 17.1]
  • Harvesting indicators: An overview [BD Indicators 8.1, 8.2 and 17.1]
  • Fisheries
  • Proportion of numbers collected over size of reproducing population [BD Indicator 8.3]
  • Fisheries bycatch [BD Indicator 8.4]
  • Other effects of fisheries on biodiversity
  • Management plans for ecologically sustainable harvesting [BD Indicator 17.1]
  • The policy setting
  • Effectiveness of bycatch controls [BD Indicator 17.2]
  • -->
    Harvesting of native wildlife [BD Indicators 8.1 and 8.2]

    The harvesting of native flora and fauna for domestic and export purposes is controlled by various legislation in each state and territory. The extent of native flora and fauna harvesting taking place in various states and territories is outlined in the following sections.

    State and territory-based policies and programs
  • South Australia
  • Australian Capital Territory
  • Tasmania
  • Northern Territory
  • Western Australia
  • New South Wales
  • -->
    South Australia

    In South Australia, information is collected only for the number of permits issued for the harvesting of native flora (Table 15). Total permits issued for harvesting native flora have been increasing since 1996 when there were 36 issued. In 1997, 46 permits were issued, 1998, 56 and in 1999, 67.

    Table 15: Number of permits issued for the harvest of terrestrial flora, South Australia, 1999
    Use Number
    Non-commercial 22
    Commercial 19
    Native food 7
    Biological collectors 8
    Other 11
    Total 67

    For native fauna, data are kept on the number of permits issued. There are 98 permits issued to kangaroo shooters, eight permits issued to kangaroo processors and 815 permits (predominantly to property owners) issued to destroy protected animals (see Harvesting under Commonwealth government legislation). Similarly, there are 58 Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) farming permits issued and 57 permits were issued to people who wish to keep and sell eggs of protected species (e.g. emu eggs may be collected by Indigenous people for carving and can attract high prices on domestic and overseas markets).

    Australian Capital Territory

    The only data available on native fauna harvesting (by calendar year) for the Australian Capital Territory indicates that the trade of native fauna is growing, with a steady increase occurring in each category every year since 1996 (Table 16).

    Table 16: Number of permits issued for the harvest of native fauna in the Australian Capital Territory from 1996 to 1999
    Licence issued 1996 1997 1998 1999
    Export 11 44 84 116
    Import 22 65 134 186
    Keep 79 92 114 165
    Kill 2 3 3 24
    Sell 23 90 162 184
    Take 21 39 46 48
    Total 158 333 543 723
    Tasmania

    Data on native animal and plant harvest are limited and records are only kept for the harvesting of Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), wallaby (e.g. Macropus sp.) and muttonbirds (Puffinus sp.), with annual values of production of around $400 000, $750 000 and $425 000, respectively. This industry provides a source of income for Indigenous communities in Tasmania. Statistics for the commercial harvesting of Brushtail Possum are available but these data do not document the non-commercial shooting of possums for crop protection purposes (Table 17). For example, permit returns indicate that an estimated 246 158 possums were taken between 1 July 1998 and 31 June 1999 and another 156 410 between 1 July 1999 and 23 May 2000. Harvesting statistics are also provided for the Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostis) (Table 18).

    Table 17: Commercial harvest statistics for Brushtail Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in Tasmania, 1995 to 2000
    Year Permit holders (No.) Estimate of harvest (No.) Royalties paid on skins ($A) Royalties paid on carcasses ($A)
    1995 40 6 012 561 1 435
    1996 59 13 917 865 4 827
    1997 35 12 364 3 11 325
    1998 16 10 596 50 6 762
    1999 38 11 635 100 8 739
    2000A 34 55 837 30 41 003

    AInterim figures to 23 May 2000.

    Source: Hocking (2000).

    Table 18: Harvest statistics for the Short-tailed Shearwaters (Puffins tenuirostis) in Tasmania, 1995-1998
    Year Total catch No. of birds exported Oil (L) Feathers (kg) No. of operators No. of catchers
    1995 203 425 71 320 796 965 8 41
    1996 98 330 46 635 640 0 6 26
    1997 180 217 44 400 801 270 6 33
    1998 112 823 48 000 270 0 5 26

    Source: Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (1998).

    Northern Territory

    The main native fauna harvested in the Northern Territory are kangaroos and crocodiles, with crocodile harvesting mainly carried out on farms. Since 1971, crocodile species have been protected and only 16 adult crocodiles have been harvested from the wild (in 1997) since this time. Some adult and juvenile crocodiles have been taken from the wild for restocking, but over the last two decades this has totalled only 67. The Parks and Wildlife Commission (PWC) of the Northern Territory remove 'problem' crocodiles from native habitats and these animals are then used for breeding purposes on farms or sold for meat or skins. During the 1990s, between 130 and 240 crocodiles have been captured under the problem crocodile program in the Northern Territory (PWC of the Northern Territory 1998). The farms have worldwide sales of crocodile leather, skins, flesh and other crocodile products.

    Juvenile crocodiles in the Darwin Crocodile Farm, one of the largest commercial crocodile breeding farms in Australia

    Juvenile crocodiles in the Darwin Crocodile Farm, one of the largest commercial crocodile breeding farms in Australia.

    Source: C. Read

    The main form of harvest from the wild is for crocodile eggs that are used to stock crocodile farms. Provisions for harvesting eggs, hatchlings and subadults are made in management programs. The total number of eggs collected from the wild has increased from 2320 in 1984 to around 20 000 from 1997 to 2000. Since 1993 to 1997, the number of farms, skins and meat produced from these farms has steadily increased (Table 19).

    Table 19: Harvest of farmed crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus and Crocodylus johnstoni) in the Northern Territory, 1993 to 1997
    Year No. of farms Skins (No.)(Crocodylus porosus) Skins (No.)(C. johnstoni) Meat (kg)(C. porosus & C. johnstoni)
    1993 6 4 796 4 066 13 850
    1994 7 3 595 4 034 17 401
    1995 8 6 917 NAA 26 626
    1996 8 6 410 505 35 411
    1997 8 8 448 604 34 621

    ANot available.

    Source: PWC of the Northern Territory (1998).

    Western Australia

    Since 1993, detailed records have been kept for harvest data of native flora in Western Australia. These data indicate no clear trend in the total number of stems harvested from 1993 to 1999 (Table 20). The harvest of native species from Western Australia is carried out predominantly for the export market and therefore often follows styles and fashions required by other markets. Harvest of individual species can fluctuate from year to year (Table 21).

    Table 20: Harvest of native flora (number of stems) in Western Australia, 1993 to 1995 and 1999 
    Botanical name 1993 1994 1995 1999
    Acacia merinthophora 0 0 188 227 38 473
    Adenanthos cuneatusA 144 730 96 548 0 0
    Adenanthos cygnorumA 0 15 680 0 26 300
    Agonis juniperinaA 3 155 058 804 541 1 439 962 568 987
    Agonis parviceps 1 347 650 4 306 688 2 956 146 1 053 640
    Anigozanthos manglesii 14 790 63 560 164 413 0
    Anigozanthos pulcherrimus 294 750 607 700 864 795 42 050
    Anigozanthos rufus 257 300 57 960 407 707 0
    Banksia ashbyi 8 087 46 951 34 312 0
    Banksia baxteri 1 707 537 1 353 115 520 743 1 339 752
    Banksia burdettii 0 18 651 33 477 26 232
    Banksia coccinea 410 658 274 786 354 904 167 245
    Banksia hookeriana 2 133 480 4 687 107 1 276 829 2 500 178
    Banksia prionotes 1 335 498 1 835 382 968 149 1 058 128
    Banksia sceptrum 227 563 298 880 0 144 879
    Banksia speciosa 119 103 342 136 178 621 0
    Banksia victoriae 117 000 0 0 0
    Beaufortia sparsa 752 782 527 811 738 039 476 430
    Boronia heterophylla 0 72 920 210 622 132 957
    Bossiaea aquifolium 383 690 656 190 441 290 0
    Bracteantha bracteata 0 0 26 000 0
    Callitris preissii 0 17 800 21 700 0
    Caustis dioica 282 770 295 690 0 33 294
    Chamelaucium megalopetalum 0 150 000 0 0
    Chamelaucium uncinatumB 750 681 1 011 203 900 556 8 561 080
    Conospermum triplinerviumA 98 660 0 0 0
    Corynanthera flava 119 320 0 214 240 65 475
    Daviesia cordata 0 215 073 604 166 0
    Dryandra formosa 549 402 334 550 187 404 179 106
    Eucalyptus marginata 0 0 127 320 0
    Eucalyptus tetragona 0 511 581 0 67 564
    Geleznowia verrucosa 173 910 150 640 198 798 50 312
    Juncus holoschoenus 412 720 602 080 0 0
    Kingia australis 187 100 0 0 0
    Lachnostachys eriobotryaA 263 020 211 233 154 225 58 913
    Lawrencella rosea 15 000 0 0 0
    Leptocarpus scariosus 1 047 200 344 160 373 001 0
    Leptospermum sericeum 0 0 260 800 0
    Lysinema ciliatum 157 100 0 0 0
    Macropidia fuliginosa 86 875 0 0 72 661
    Melaleuca nesophila 9 380 0 0 0
    Pericalymma ellipticum 0 0 138 000 0
    Persoonia longifolia 732 398 1 086 682 1 352 687 1 754 737
    Podocarpus drouynianus 2 910 325 3 347 805 3 181 632 6 299 426
    Scholtzia involucrata 948 330 1 448 610 889 200 249 739
    Stirlingia latifolia 2 894 100 2 949 068 2 268 430 1 161 947
    Verticordia eriocephala 802 190 10 020 547 451 108 180
    Verticordia nitens 293 020 337 854 987 772 284 368
    Verticordia plumosa 0 0 34 806 0
    Verticordia serrata 8 440 0 0 0
    Xylomelum occidentale 272 344 302 729 381 003 228 136

    AProbably bush picked on private property.
    BProbably cultivated.

    Table 21: Total harvest of native flora (millions of stems) in Western Australia, 1993 to 1999
    Year Cultivated Picked on private property Picked on Crown land Total
    1993 2.2 9.2 18.4 29.8
    1994 2.5 10.6 21.4 34.5
    1995 3.0 9.6 15.4 28.0
    1996 10.1 8.0 14.1 32.2
    1997 7.2 5.2 16.1 28.5
    1998 5.6 9.5 20.0 35.1
    1999 12.1 4.0 14.7 30.8

    Successful captive breeding of the Australian Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has occurred on crocodile farms in Western Australia and Johnston's Crocodile (C. johnstoni) has been bred at farms in Broome and Wyndham. During 1994, 639 Crocodylus porosus were bred in captivity, with a further 746 in 1995. As in the Northern Territory, the taking of crocodiles from the wild is subject to quota limitations and since the mid-1980s, the numbers taken have fluctuated. The rate of harvesting depends on the requirements for restocking and also the climatic conditions that may limit the supply of eggs and young (Table 22). Similarly, there has been no discernible trend in the number of crocodiles processed under licence for the seven years to 1998 (Table 23).

    Table 22: Collections of the Australian Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) from the wild in Western Australia, by location of capture
    Data include 'problem' animals and farm stock acquisition captures.

    Cambridge Gulf system

      East Arm/Ord River West Arm Total Elsewhere
    (King Sound)
    Total
    Non-hatchlings
    1983-85 8 0 8 6 14
    1986-88 6 0 6 7 13
    1989-July 1992 34 81 115 18 133
    1992-93A 50 38 88 6 94
    1993-94A 12 2 14 0 14
    1994-95A 8 4 12 15 27
    1995-96A 14 1 15 2 17
    1996-97A 7 1 8 0 8
    Total 139 127 266 54 320
    Viable eggs/hatchlings
    1983-85 0 0 0 0 0
    1986-88 0 0 0 30 30
    1989-92 0 268B 268 0 268
    1993 0 0 0 0 0
    1994-95C 0 6 6 0 6
    1995-96 0 19 19 0 19
    1996-97 0 20 20 0 20
    1997 0 20 20 0 20
    Total 0 333 333 30 363

    AFigures are from July to June;BTaken from the King River;CTaken January 1994 to June 1995.

    Source: CALM (1999a).

    Table 23: Crocodiles processed under licence in Western Australia, 1991 to 1998
    Year Crocodylus porosus Crocodylus johnstoni
    1991 70 11
    1992 90 21
    1993 89 167
    1994 158 517
    1995 426 60
    1996 807 231
    1997 191 173
    1998 349 216
    Total 2 180 1 396
    New South Wales

    The harvesting of kangaroos in New South Wales is undertaken to use the full carcass (as opposed to skin-only shooting). Since 1996, New South Wales has harvested a higher percentage of the available commercial quota than any other State. Kangaroo populations continue to fluctuate, primarily in response to seasonal conditions. Populations are monitored annually by aerial surveys, fixed-wing and helicopter.

    New South Wales NPWS issues licenses for the commercial harvesting of protected native plants from private property and some Crown lands such as state forests. The agency also issues licences for the commercial cultivation of protected plant species. However, some common species of native flora that are harvested commercially, particularly for the cut-flower/filler industry, are not protected species under current legislation and there is accordingly no statutory ability for the NPWS to manage or monitor the harvest or utilisation of those species.

    Harvesting under Commonwealth government legislation

    Better and more uniform data exist for some harvests that are undertaken in various Australian jurisdictions, but are listed under the Commonwealth's Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982.

    Around 62% of the available quota for kangaroo harvesting takes place in Queensland (Tables 24 and 25). Nationally, around 63% of the total quota allowed is used. The quota levels set are well within the estimated population levels of the commercial harvest area (Tables 26 and 27). Numbers of the Wallaroo (Macropus robust us) have almost doubled since 1998, showing the fluctuations that can occur from year to year. Between 1998 and 1999, populations of all kangaroos increased, particularly for the Wallaroo and particularly in Queensland (Tables 26 and 27). In 1999, population estimates for South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia were based on fixed wing aerial surveys. Population estimates for Queensland were based on extrapolation of helicopter counts in monitor blocks using line transect methodology.

    Table 24: Commercial kangaroo harvest quotas in Australia in 1998
    Base and supplementary quotas are given in the lower part of the table.
    State Red Kangaroo
    (Macropus rufus)
    Eastern Grey
    (Macropus giganteus)
    Western Grey
    (Macropus fuliginosus)
    Euro/Wallaroo
    (Macropus robustus)
    Whiptail Wallaby
    (Macropus parryi)
    Bennetts Wallaby
    (Macropus rufogriseus)
    Tasmanian Pademelon
    (
    Thylogale billardierii)
    Total
    NSW 655 540 460 500 163 700 29 400 0 0 0 1 309 140
    Qld 610 000 970 000 0 270 000 25 000 0 0 1 875 000
    SA 327 000 0 206 000 88 000 0 0 0 621 000
    WA 180 000 0 74 000 10 000 0 0 0 264 000
    Flinders Island, Tas. 0 0 0 0 0 7 000 14 000 21 000
    Total 1 772 540 1 430 500 443 700 397 400 25 000 7 000 14 000 4 090 140
    NSW Base quota 618 540 382 500 151 700 22 400 - - - 1 175 140
    NSW Supplementary quota 37 000 78 000 12 000 7 000 - - - 134 000
    SA Base quota 206 000 - 64 000 55 000 - - - 325 000
    SA Supplementary quota 121 000 - 142 000 33 000 - - - 296 000
    Table 25: Kangaroos species killed under commercial harvest quotas across Australia in 1998
    State Red Kangaroo
    (
    Macropus rufus)
    Eastern Grey
    (
    Macropus giganteus)
    Western Grey
    (
    Macropus fuliginosus)
    Euro/Wallaroo
    (
    Macropus robustus)
    Whiptail Wallaby
    (
    Macropus parryi)
    Bennetts Wallaby
    (
    Macropus rufogriseus)
    Tasmanian Pademelon
    (
    Thylogale billardierii)
    Total
    Qld 510 622 486 379 486 379 167 422 217 0 0 1 164 640
    NSW 495 100 314 328 123 826 7 535 0 0 0 940 789
    SA 227 904 0 0 24 981 0 0 0 326 589
    WA 110 588 0 0 4 851 0 0 0 160 539
    Flinders Island, Tas. 0 0 0 0 0 149 70 219
    Total 1 344 214 800 707 242 630 204 789 217 149 70 2 592 776
    Table 26: Population estimates for kangaroos within commercial harvest areas in 1998
    State Red Kangaroo
    (Macropus rufus)
    Western Grey
    (Macropus fuliginosus)
    Eastern Grey
    (Macropus giganteus)
    Euro/Wallaroo
    (Macropus robustus)
    NSW 3 595 700 1 202 594 3 564 500 466 738
    Qld 4 870 000 - 9 440 000 2 660 000
    SA 2 007 000 963 000 - 412 000
    WA 1 935 000 664 700 - 168 000
    TotalA 12 407 700 2 830 294 13 004 500 3 706 738

    AThe actual national population would be significantly higher as these figures do not include population estimates for areas not surveyed, such as the area east of the Great Dividing Range.

    Table 27: Population estimates for kangaroos within commercial harvest areas in 1999
    State Red Kangaroo
    (Macropus rufus)
    Western Grey
    (Macropus fuliginosu s)
    Eastern Grey
    (Macropus giganteus)
    Euro/Wallaroo
    (Macropus robustus)
    NSW 2 952 442 1 273 779 3 427 554 462 418
    Qld 5 440 000 - A 11 100 000 5 250 000
    SA 1 708 000 969 000 - 412 000
    WA 2 330 000 688 300 - 168 000
    Total 12 430 442 2 931 079 14 527 554 6 292 418

    ANA;Bthe actual national population would be significantly higher as these figures do not include population estimates for areas not surveyed, such as the area east of the Great Dividing Range.

    In South Australia and New South Wales, however, the population of Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus) declined over these years. For animals whose numbers fluctuate dramatically with rainfall, statistics from such a short period of time may have limited use.

    Beginning in 1997, New South Wales has included a provision for kangaroos previously killed in the commercial zone under non-commercial permits to be included as an identified component of the quota. In 1996, South Australia refined the setting of the commercial harvest quota to provide for the separate identification of a sustainable use component to the quota and an additional land mitigation component. This latter component is to be released only when there is an identified threat to land management goals in areas where the 'sustainable' component of the quota has been taken.

    Export data for Australian native plants and animals are available for permits issued (Table 28). Table 28 shows only those taxa most commonly appearing in the permit database for the years shown. Over 250 species were subject to permit approvals, most for small and/or occasional quantities. There is substantial year-to-year variation in the volumes of individual species exported. Data are collected and reported in a range of units such as 'stems' and 'bunches' which makes comparisons between years and the determination of any trends difficult. It has not been possible to assess the significance of harvest levels of specific taxa, or the location of harvest.

    Table 28: Most commonly recorded Australian exports of native plants and animals 
    Scientific name Description UnitA 1990 1995 1999
    Acacia merinthophora Stems No. 135 146 995 0
    Acanthophis antarcticus Venom NS 0 5 488 0
    Acrosterigma reeveanum Shells No. 181 46 3
    Actinopyga mauritiana Dried bche-de-mer kg 0 0 1 645
    Adenanthos cuneatus Stems No. 0 127 019 0
    Adiantum formosum Dried plants
    Fronds
    Stems
    No.
    No.
    No.
    0
    120 000 32 280
    0
    80 000
    95 878
    55 000
    0
    20 000
    Agonis parviceps Stems No. 173 844 2 087 045 0
    Banksia baxteri Stems No. 279 060 702 552 0
    Banksia hookeriana Stems
    Flowers
    No.
    No.
    344 695
    0
    1 855 013
    0
    0
    33 060
    Banksia prionotes Stems No. 182 730 1 069 158 240
    Bowenia serrulata Stems No. 0 33 370 1 845
    Calochlaena dubia Dried plants
    Dried flowers
    No.
    No.
    0
    0
    0
    0
    5 000
    15 000
    Caustis blakeii Stems
    Stems
    Nb
    No.
    84 420 320 001 0
    0
    0
    0
    Caustis dioica Flowers
    Stems
    No.
    No.
    0
    56 190
    0
    71 647
    40 000
    0
    Caustis flexuosa Stems
    Fronds
    No.
    No.
    0
    15 000
    143 270
    0
    0
    10 000
    Cecidomyiidae Live invertebrates No. 0 4 000 3 000
    Chaceon bicolor Live or dead crabs Kg 0 0 3 243
    Culcita dubia Fronds No. 105 000 0 0
    Dicksonia antarctica Live plants No. 16 504 28 828
    Durvillea potatorum Seaweed
    Fronds
    Seaweed
    L
    kg
    tn
    1 636
    1 318 995
    0
    0
    32 460
    3 515
    8 740
    0
    460
    Exocarpos cupressiformis Stems Nb 500 0 0
    Hemiergis spp. Live animal(s) No. 0 0 460
    Holothuria (Metriatyla) scabra Dried, fresh and
    Frozen bche-de-mer
    Dried bche-de-mer
    Dried bche-de-mer
    Meat
    Frozen bche-de-mer
    kg
    No.
    kg
    kg
    No.
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    7 570
    13 600
    17 105
    30 830
    319 000
    7 296
    0
    2 518
    Hypothalassia armata Live or dead crabs kg 0 0 2 671
    Juncus holoschoenus Stems No. 524 794 326 710 0
    Lepidoptera Eggs
    Live invertebrates
    No.
    No.
    20
    22
    0
    0
    0
    0
    Lycopodium cernuum Live plants Nb 4 400 0 0
    Macropus eugenii Scientific specimens No. 0 5 000 0
    Macropus fuliginosus Meat
    Skin
    Scientific specimens
    kg
    No.
    g
    0
    65 061
    2 100
    71 248
    179 451
    0
    8 168
    25 344
    0
    Macropus giganteus Hat accessories
    Belt
    Hat
    Leather (skins)
    Skin
    Meat
    Golf accessories
    Hat accessories
    Toy koalas
    Meat
    Meat products
    Leather (skins)
    Skin
    No.
    No.
    No.
    No.
    No.
    kg
    No.
    No.
    No.
    No.
    kg
    No.
    No.
    996
    392
    0
    0
    1 300 481
    156 457
    0
    0
    22 379
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    1 494 230
    1 479
    2 956
    4 410
    33 922
    83 328
    488 630
    995 690
    239
    311
    4 253
    173 275
    213 591
    651 908
    0
    239
    0
    9 600
    0
    173 275
    214 191
    Macropus rufus Leather (skins)
    Skin
    Meat
    No.
    No.
    kg
    0
    872 351
    333 418
    190 628
    1 102 282
    1 326 173
    2 537
    240 710
    1 049 429
    Macropus spp. Meat
    Skin
    kg
    No.
    0
    0
    0
    0
    18 000
    28 395
    Macrozamia miquelii Fronds
    Fronds
    Stems
    Nb
    No.
    No.
    2 300
    12 400
    800
    0
    600
    0
    0
    0
    420
    Neotrigonia bednalli Shells No. 144 140 75
    Nothofagus cunninghamii Stems No. 0 616 1 200
    Persoonia virgata Live plants
    Stems
    Nb
    No.
    4 400
    0
    0
    6 900
    0
    0
    Phyllopteryx taeniolatus Live fish NS 0 0 69
    Podocarpus drouynianus Flowers No. 0 11 100 5 220
    Pseudocarcinus gigas Live or dead crabs kg 0 0 8 636
    Pteridium esculentum Dried plants
    Stems
    No.
    No.
    0
    118
    0
    74 945
    20 000
    0
    Pycnosorus globosus Flowers No. 0 0 534 150
    Wodyetia bifurcata Seeds No. 0 1 250 27 090
    Xanthorrhoea johnsonii Leaves
    Fronds
    Live plants
    Leaves
    Live plants
    Stems
    Nb
    Nb
    Nb
    No.
    No.
    No.
    79 550
    6 120
    39 350
    39 700
    0
    0
    148 000
    0
    0
    0
    0
    28 000
    0
    0
    0
    0
    827
    0
    Xanthorrhoea semiplana Extract kg 0 25 000 18 000

    ANo. = number; NS = not specified; kg = kilograms; Nb = number of bunches; L = litres; tn = tonne; g = gram.

    Data on plants and animals exported illegally come from prosecutions and will thus be an underestimate. From the data provided it is usually impossible to determine what species are involved in prosecution or what crime was involved unless each individual file is analysed, a task beyond this report (Table 29).

    Table 29: Prosecutions and trials under the Wildlife Protection Act 1982 (Cwlth) for illegally importing/exporting wildlife, 1990 to 1999
    Year Guilty plea Not guilty plea Total Fined or sentenced
    1990 13 1 14 10
    1991 17 4 21 10
    1992 13 5 18 13
    1993 7 4A 11 10
    1994 25 7 32 20
    1995 12 10A 22 18
    1996 14 3A 17 14
    1997 15 2 17 15
    1998 15 4 19 18
    1999 8 0 8 7

    AIncludes some 'not applicable' and 'changed' pleas.

    Source: Commonwealth Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (pers. comm. 2000).

    Management plans for sustainable harvesting [BD Indicator 17.1]

    Overall there are 11 management plans approved under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 (Table 30). Most of the management plans are for species of kangaroo.

    Table 30: Management programs approved under S10 of the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 (Cwlth)
    Management program name Approval period
    A Management Program for Crocodylus porosus and Crocodylus johnsoni in the Northern Territory of Australia 1 Jan. 1999-31 Dec. 2003
    Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile Crocodylus porosus and the Freshwater Crocodile Crocodylus johnsoni in Western Australia 1 Jan. 1999-31 Dec. 2003
    The Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris Management Program in Tasmania 1 Jan. 1998-31 Dec. 2000
    Management Program for the Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula (Kerr) in Tasmania 1997 to 1999 1 Jan. 2000-31 Dec. 2004
    The New South Wales Kangaroo Management Program 1 Jan. 1998-31 Dec. 2002
    The Kangaroo Conservation and Management Program in South Australia 1 Jan. 1998-31 Dec. 2002
    1998 to 2002 Management Program for Commercially Taken Macropods in Queensland 1 Jan. 1998-31 Dec. 2002
    Management Program for the Red Kangaroo Macropus giganteus in Western Australia 1998 to 2002 1 Jan. 1998-31 Dec. 2002
    Management Program for the Western Grey Kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus in Western Australia 1998 to 2002 1 Jan. 1998-31 Dec. 2002
    Management Program for the Euro Kangaroo Macropus robustus in Western Australia1998 to 2002 1 Jan. 1998-31 Dec. 2002
    Management Program for Bennett's Wallaby Thylogale billardierii and Tasmanian Pademelon on Flinders Island, Tasmania 1998 to 1999 1 Jan. 2000-31 Dec. 2002

    The Act provides for management programs to be declared where there is sufficient information available on the biology of the species proposed for harvesting to ensure that the activity will not be to the irreversible detriment of the species, or its habitat. Management programs are usually administered by state or territory government agencies and reflect state/territory-wide management for the particular species concerned.

    Harvesting indicators: An overview [BD Indicators 8.1, 8.2 and 17.1]

    Analysis of the available data for Indicators 8.1, 8.2 and 17.1 reveals that, with the exception of kangaroo harvest and permit data and flora harvest data from Western Australia, there is an acute lack of accessible comparable data for most states on harvesting of native flora and fauna. There is a urgent need for improvements in the reporting system for prosecutions involving illegal exports of Australian wildlife so that it is possible to determine what species are being threatened.

    Fisheries

    Australia has sovereign rights to explore and exploit resources within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is the second biggest in the world, and also has a claim over the continental shelf where it extends beyond the EEZ outer boundary. It also has the responsibility to manage and use these resources wisely, as well as to conserve biodiversity. The total Australian Marine Jurisdiction (AMJ), which includes the EEZ and continental shelf off the Australian mainland and external territories, covers a total surface area of around 16 million square kilometres - about twice the size of the Australian mainland.cellspacing="2"

    Australian fisheries are based on the harvest of wild, native organisms, and this represents a highly significant direct use of elements of the species level of biodiversity. Traditionally, fisheries management has concerned itself primarily with the management of targeted fish stocks. In recent years, fisheries management has broadened in scope to include consideration of the incidental mortality or injury of other species and to the effects of fishing operations on the environment. Such an approach is termed 'ecosystem management', a principle that dates from reform of national fisheries policy in the late 1980s to include ESD.

    Proportion of numbers collected over size of reproducing population [BD Indicator 8.3]

    Catch levels and management of major fisheries stocks are covered in the Coasts and Oceans Report.

    Fisheries bycatch [BD Indicator 8.4]

    Bycatch species are those species that are not targeted in fisheries operations and are caught or affected incidentally. The definition of bycatch is complex, and can vary from fishery to fishery. Bycatch includes other fishery species, some of which may be retained and sold, as well as other species, including marine mammals and seabirds. In some fisheries, especially those using trawl techniques and comprising a mixture of species, bycatch is common due to the gear and methods used. In others, the specific nature of the gear and methods used mean that lower bycatch rates are possible. The Bureau of Rural Sciences used the approach outlined in Table 31 for defining bycatch as a proportion of total catch (Barratt et al. 2001). In general, bycatch describes a subset of the actual species present, with invertebrates and algae either grouped or ignored.

    Table 31: Definitions of bycatch
    Component of total 'catch'A Target species Non-target species
    Retained A B
    Discarded C D
    OtherB E F

    ATotal catch: A+B+C+D;Retained catch: A+B;Discarded catch: C+D;Bycatch: B+D+F;Byproduct: B;
    BOrganisms affected by fishing gear but which do not reach the deck.

    Source: Barratt et al. (2001).

    The National Bycatch Policy (NBP) adopts the definition of bycatch given in Table 31, but restricts attention to categories D and F (i.e. not to incidentally caught, retained catch). Bycatch has become a widely recognised issue, mostly because of the mortality of high-profile species such as Dugongs, seals and albatross (see Albatross and bycatch policy). However, for most fisheries and bycatch species, measurement is limited at best to broad estimates of weight of bycatch versus weight of total catch.

    Published reviews of fisheries bycatch note that data are very poor for most fisheries, and that an accurate overview of the whole fisheries sector is not available. In some fisheries, discarded catch need not be recorded in fishers' logbooks and, where such recording is required, compliance may be low. This situation, in part, reflects the difficulty of identifying many species that are caught incidentally. In some fisheries, the bulk of bycatch is discarded, usually with high mortality rates. There is a significant bycatch problem in some fisheries, notably those utilising trawl and longline methods. The problem appears to be reduced in highly targeted fisheries such as those using jigging or diving.

    The Barratt et al. (2001) report estimated discarded catch as a proportion of total catch for 144 managed fisheries in Australia. They classified the 23 Commonwealth managed fisheries for which data are available according to the components of total catch used in Table 31. Information on discarded non-target species is only available for 26% of the 23 Commonwealth fisheries used in the analysis (Table 32).

    Table 32: Percentage of fisheries in Australia for which information is available on different components of their catch
    Category Percentage of fisheries for which
    information is available
    A (retained target catch) 100
    B (retained non-target catch) 70
    C (discarded target catch) 39
    D (discarded non-target catch) 26
    E (other target species) 9
    F (other non-target species) 39
    Other effects of fisheries on biodiversity

    'Ecological effects' refers to a range of other impacts of fisheries relevant to the species level of biodiversity. Recognition of such effects is a result of the beginning of the adoption of an 'ecosystem management' approach to fisheries, where management is intended to cater for impacts other than on the target stock. Ecological effects of some major Australian fisheries include:

    • removal or mortality of one or more species (target or non-target), to the point where populations of that species may be rendered vulnerable
    • the effect of 'fishing debris', such as the entanglement, pollution and possible drowning of wildlife in discarded or lost lines and nets
    • impact on feeding or other behaviour of species such as Dugongs (e.g. through disturbance and boat-strike by vessels)
    • disturbance of habitat, especially of seabed plant and animal communities through trawling
    • indirect changes or destabilisation of ecosystems through the removal of important predator or prey species that may affect other populations
    • impact on scavenging populations through the discarding of large quantities of bycatch and processing waste.

    The effect of fisheries such as the Bass Strait Central Scallop Fishery on the biodiversity of benthic communities is likely to be high, but few reliable data are available.

    Management plans for ecologically sustainable harvesting [BD Indicator 17.1]

    Management plans are now provided for in all Australian fisheries legislation (Table 33). Fisheries without management plans are managed in accordance with the general requirements of the relevant legislation. Although the situation across jurisdictions varies, the generally small proportion of fisheries with management plans, and the even fewer catering for bycatch, is a matter of concern from a biodiversity perspective.

    Table 33: Management plans for Australian fisheries (at June 1999)
    Statute (jurisdiction) Statutory provision for management plans No. of fisheries managed No. of fisheries with management plans No. of plans dealing with non-target species
    Fisheries Management Act 1991 (Cwlth) Yes 23 4 3
    Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld) Yes 17 2      1A
    Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW) Yes 8 0 0
    Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic.) Yes 9 0 0
    Living Marine Resource Management Act 1995 (Tas.) Yes 9 5      1B
    Fisheries Act 1982 (SA) YesC 13 13 0
    Fisheries Resources Management Act 1994 (WA) Yes 48 33      1D
    Fisheries Act 1988 (NT) Yes 17 3 0

    ADraft trawl fishery plan mentions bycatch targets;
    BBycatch targets mentioned in scale fish policy document;
    C
    Term 'scheme of management' is used in the Act;
    DReported, not analysed in source document.

    Source: Barratt et al. (2001).

    Given that most of the legislation is less than one decade old, and that it has only been in recent years that ecosystem management and bycatch have been accorded real attention, the status may be viewed as transitional, and one that should be expected to improve markedly in the next few years and monitored accordingly. Requirements for environmental assessments and management plans under the EPBC Act and related legislation will speed up this process. A remaining issue even where management plans exist is of coordination of management where stocks cross jurisdictions.

    The policy setting

    Some policy and management changes have been initiated in the past decade affecting both target stock management, bycatch and other environmental effects. For example, Dugong Protection Areas have been introduced in waters adjacent to Queensland where the use of mesh nets are restricted or prohibited.

    At the national level, a NBP was released in 1999 following cooperative development of the Commonwealth, states and territories, and expressly stated as being consistent with the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development and the NSCABD. The Policy states several guiding principles that should be adhered to in all legislation and management plans, including: promotion of stewardship, cooperation and transparency, integration of short-term and long-term approaches, and application of the precautionary principle. The overarching objective of the Policy is to ensure that bycatch species and populations are maintained at sustainable levels.

    The NBP committed the Commonwealth to the development of bycatch action plans (BAPs) for all fisheries through a defined, multistep policy formulation. The Policy lists a range of strategies and a checklist of considerations to be taken into account when developing BAPs. BAPs do not have legal standing, and are not based on minimum standards of performance.

    Effectiveness of bycatch controls [BD Indicator 17.2]

    Investigation of Commonwealth fisheries (Barratt et al. 2001) suggest that 114 or 79% of Australia's 144 commercial fisheries have low to very low discard rates (defined as 50% discarded) (Table 31, C+D). Fishing conducted by longline and dropline has increased in intensity (Figure 26), while the estimated level of bycatch for some significant fisheries is very high. The Northern Prawn Fishery, Southern Bluefin Fishery and South East Trawl Fishery, in particular, have high levels of bycatch and have, at least, a significant effect on marine biodiversity (Figure 27). For example, discard figures of 95, 83 and 50 to 86% are reported for these three fisheries, respectively. Some 30 000 to 60 000 t of marine life might be discarded to harvest 10 300 t of Northern Prawns. The 'discard' may involve over 500 species including turtles, snakes, sawfish, sharks and seabirds.

    Figure 26: Change in fishing effort (hooks) in the eastern sector of the Australian Pelagic Longline Fishery and the area of the fishery (square nautical miles) between 1989 and 1998.
    Poly.; polynomial curve fitted to the data.

     Change in fishing effort (hooks) in the eastern sector of the Australian Pelagic Longline Fishery

    Source: Barratt et al. (2001)

    Figure 27: Total kilometres trawled in the South East Trawl Fishery between 1989 and 1998.

     Total kilometres trawled in the South East Trawl Fishery between 1989 and 1998

    Source: Barratt et al. (2001)

    Various strategies are being investigated or adopted in other jurisdictions that could help reduce bycatch levels. In Queensland, the East Coast Trawl Fishery management plan includes the compulsory use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs). In New South Wales, research is being undertaken to establish methods of reducing juvenile fish bycatch in estuarine prawn and fish hauling. Release devices are also being introduced into prawn trawl fisheries in estuarine and ocean areas. In Western Australia, the issue is being attended to through action plans for individual fisheries. In general, the efficacy of the various bycatch reduction strategies and technologies requires ongoing monitoring.