Claire Howlett, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 20 December 2006
The Hon Ian Macdonald MLC
Minister for Primary Industries
SYDNEY NSW 2000
I am writing to you as the Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage regarding the Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) declaration for the New South Wales (NSW) Ocean Trawl Fishery (OTF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
On 30 June 2006 a condition was placed on the OTF WTO declaration which required the Fishery Management Strategy (FMS) to be amended in accordance with your determination of 7 June 2006 and formally approved by December 2006. As you would be aware, if a WTO condition is not met, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage is compelled under the EPBC Act to revoke the WTO declaration.
I have been advised that the current FMS which was due to be finalised by this month is unlikely to be approved due to the developments in negotiating a new Offshore Constitutional Settlement arrangement between the NSW Government and the Commonwealth Government. As such I have decided to vary the WTO to revoke condition 4) that the FMS be finalised and approved by December 2006. This variation is an acknowledgement of the expectation that the proposed OCS arrangements will require amendments to the FMS before it can be finalised. I consider that through the determination of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is committed to enhancing the management of the fishery in an ecologically sustainable way. I expect that the delay in finalising a FMS should not affect the fishery in the short term.
The FMS provides a comprehensive framework for the ongoing management of the fishery and is the key component for implementing the range of measures resulting from the EIA process to improve the ecological sustainability of the OTF. Therefore I consider it should remain a high priority with NSW DPI to amend the final FMS as soon as the OCS arrangements are agreed upon.
In accordance with the conditions placed on the OTF WTO, the NSW DPI is also required to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage of any material change to the OTF’s management arrangements that could negatively affect the assessment of the fishery against the criteria of the EPBC Act, within three months of that change being made. I would assume that any new OCS arrangements will result in significant changes to the management regime of the OTF and I look forward to being advised of their impacts on the OTF by the NSW DPI.
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
20 December 2006