Andrew McNee, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 14 June 2006
The Honourable Tim Mulherin
Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
GPO Box 46
BRISBANE QLD 4001
I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the Queensland Developmental Jellyfish Fishery (DJF) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). In October 2005 the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) submitted the document entitled Ecological Assessment of the Developmental Jellyfish Fishery in Queensland Waters for assessment under the EPBC Act.
The submission has been assessed for the purposes of the wildlife trade provisions of Part 13A of the EPBC 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 (DEH) website at: www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/assessment/index.html.
I am satisfied that for the purposes of the wildlife trade provisions in Part 13A of the EPBC Act, the management arrangements provide the basis for the fishery to be managed in an ecologically sustainable way.
I consider that, subject to the implementation of conditions set out in Attachment A, the DJF 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 in the short term. Hence, I propose to declare the fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO), under Part 13A of the EPBC Act. This declaration would allow the export of product from the fishery for the next 3 years. The declaration is subject to the conditions set out in Attachment A. Please note that if any condition is not met, the Minister is compelled to revoke the WTO decision.
I 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 arrangements for the fishery meet the Australian Government's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The DJF is considered a low impact fishery that is appropriately precautionary and very early in its developmental phase. The combination of management arrangements that incudes limited entry, limited areas, a precautionary Total Allowable Developmental Commercial Catch and gear controls, will ensure low bycatch levels, minimise interaction with protected species and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.
While there are some environmental risks associated with this fishery, I believe that DPI&F 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 and I understand that they have agreed to a number of recommended actions, focusing on addressing key issues, to be implemented before the next Australian Government review of the fishery. These recommendations, attached to the letter at 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.
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
14 June 2006
Proposed conditions on the Approved Wildlife Trade Declaration for the Queensland Developmental Jellyfish Fishery
Additional provisions (section 303FT)
Relating to the harvesting of fish specimens that are, or are derived from, fish or invertebrates, other than specimens of species listed under Part 13 of the EPBC Act, taken in the Queensland Developmental Jellyfish Fishery
- Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the Queensland Developmental Jellyfish management regime in force under the Queensland's Fisheries Act 1994 and Fisheries Regulation 1995.
- The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) will inform the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) of any intended amendments to the management arrangements that may affect sustainability of the target species or negatively impact on by-product, bycatch, protected species or the ecosystem.
- Reports to be produced and presented to DEH annually, and to include:
- information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress by DPI&F in implementing the recommendations made in the Ecological Assessment of the Developmental Jellyfish Fishery in Queensland Waters;
- 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 DPI&F on the ecologically sustainable management of the Queensland Developmental Jellyfish Fishery
The Queensland Developmental Jellyfish Fishery is a well-managed fishery with a range of management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fishery.
The Queensland Developmental Jellyfish Fishery has an adequate management regime including limited entry, gear controls and closed zones 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. DPI&F should action these recommendations before the next review in 2009 or within the timeframe specified in individual recommendations.
Recommendation 1 DPI&F to inform DEH of any intended amendments to the management arrangements that may affect sustainability of the target species or negatively impact on by-product, bycatch, protected species or the ecosystem.
Recommendation 2 Within 1 year following an Ecological Risk Assessment planned for late 2007, DPI&F to develop fishery specific objectives linked to performance indicators and performance measures for the target species and impacts on the ecosystem.
Recommendation 3 DPI&F to ensure that the observer program is capable of providing the required information at a statistically robust level and provides for the collection of at least the following:
- validation of commercial catch information for use in stock assessments and management;
- observations on damage to jellyfish that escape from the dip netting operation;
- data on bycatch;
- protected species interactions; and
- any ecosystem impacts of fishing operations (to the extent possible noting the nature of the fishing operations).
Recommendation 4 DPI&F to continue to develop and implement research to address:
- key gaps in the knowledge of jellyfish biology and ecology of C. mosaicus (including annual variation, aggregations and ecosystem role of species);
- stock status (including research surrounding establishing a process for setting the TACC based on the stock status);
- bycatch levels in other fisheries and
- the effects of harvesting jellyfish on the wider ecological community.
Within 3 years if there is an indication/ decision that further commercial development is to occur or before any further commercial fishing (exploratory or otherwise) is allowed to be undertaken after this date, DPI&F to develop and implement a research strategy. The research strategy will need to be implemented within the constraints of available resources.
Recommendation 5 From 2007 DPI&F to report publicly on the status of the fishery on an annual basis, including explicit reporting against each performance measure, once developed.
Recommendation 6 DPI&F to monitor the status of the fishery in relation to the performance measures once developed. Within 3 months of becoming aware of a performance measure not being met, DPI&F to finalise a clear timetable for the implementation of appropriate management responses.
Recommendation 7 Within 3 years, DPI&F to evaluate and report on the impact of the fishing operation in the Great Sandy Strait and in Moreton Bay areas on the RAMSAR sites (Site Nos 992 and 631) on the ecological values considered in listing the areas.
Recommendation 8 Within 1 year, to support the implementation of the Species of Conservation Interest logbooks, DPI&F to ensure that an education program for commercial fishers is developed and implemented, to promote the importance of protected species protection and accurate incident reporting.