Ian Cresswell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 1 November 2004
The Hon Henry Palaszczuk MP
Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
Primary Industries Building
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 Moreton Bay Developmental Beche-de-mer Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In June 2004 the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) submitted the document entitled Ecological Assessment of the Developmental Moreton Bay Beche-de-mer Fishery for assessment under the Act.
The submission has been assessed for the purposes of 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: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/assessment/index.html.
I am satisfied that the operation of the fishery is consistent with the 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 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.
The management regime aims to ensure that fishing is conducted in a manner that does not lead to over-fishing and for fishing operations to be managed to minimise their 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 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. 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. 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.
Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
1 November 2004
Proposed conditions on the approved wildlife trade declaration wild for the Moreton Bay Developmental Beche-de-mer Fisher
Conditions on a declared WTO
- Operation of the fishery will be carried out in accordance with the Queensland Moreton Bay Developmental Beche-de-mer management regime made under the Queensland Fisheries Regulation 1995 in force under the Fisheries Act 1994;
- 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 Queensland Developmental Slipper Lobster Fishery management regime that may affect the sustainability of the target species or negatively impact on 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 of DPI&F in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the Queensland Moreton Bay Developmental Beche-de-mer 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 Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) on the ecologically sustainable management of the Moreton Bay Developmental Beche-de-mer Fishery
The Queensland Moreton Bay Developmental Beche-de-mer Fishery 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 the fishery is currently in a developmental phase and that DPI&F have committed to implementing more formal management arrangements should the fishery progress beyond the developmental phase. DEH welcomes the commitment to developing the fishery in a precautionary and sustainable manner that will take into account the requirements expressed through the recommendations presented below.
The Moreton Bay Developmental Beche-de-mer Fishery has an adequate management regime including limited entry, zonal total allowable catch limits (TAC's), size limits and observer and research programs 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 2007 or within the timeframe specified in individual recommendations.
- 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 bycatch, protected species or the ecosystem.
- DPI&F to develop fishery specific objectives for each of the target species and for fishery impacts on the ecosystem. DPI&F to ensure that the target species objectives are linked to performance indicators and performance measures.
- From 2005, DPI&F to report publicly on the status of the fishery on an annual basis, including explicit reporting against each performance measure (once developed).
- DPI&F to cooperate with other jurisdictions in efforts to undertake research on key gaps in beche-de-mer biology and ecology.
- 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.
- DPI&F to ensure that zonal TACs take into account the stock status of sandfish in each zone and potential vulnerability to localised depletion of sandfish to ensure that TACs provide for individual species to be harvested within ecologically sustainable limits.