Ian Cresswell, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 5 November 2004
The Hon Rory McEwan MP
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
GPO Box 668
Adelaide SA 5001
I am writing to you as Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in relation to the assessment of the South Australian Prawn Trawl Fisheries under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act). In February 2003 the Department of Primary Industries, and Resources, South Australia (PIRSA) submitted the document Ecological Assessment of the South Australian Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and West Coast Prawn Fishery for assessment under the 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 fisheries 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 the management arrangements for the fisheries require that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that protected species are not injured or killed and the level of interactions with such species in the fisheries are not likely to adversely affect the conservation status of protected species or the survival and recovery of listed threatened species. Hence, the management arrangements for the Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery meet the requirements of Part 13 of the Act and I propose to accredit the management regimes for each fishery accordingly. Accreditation will ensure that individual fishers operating in accordance with the management arrangements are not required to seek permits in relation to interactions with protected species in Commonwealth waters.
I am also 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 fisheries to be managed in an ecologically sustainable way. I therefore propose to amend the list of exempt native specimens, to include specimens that are or are derived from fish taken in the Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery, excluding specimens that are listed under Part 13 of the EPBC Act, for a period of five years. Such listing will serve to exempt the fisheries from the export controls of the EPBC Act, providing the fisheries continue not to involve the export of specimens listed on the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.
The management arrangements for the fisheries meet the Australian Government's Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The fisheries are well managed under comprehensive, adaptable, precautionary and ecologically based regimes capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fisheries.
The sophisticated management regimes of adaptive real time monitoring and management, area and seasonal closures, restricted fishing time and small area of the fisheries actively fished, suggests that the fisheries are being managed in an ecologically sustainable way, provides confidence that the fishery managers will maintain low bycatch levels, minimise interactions with protected species and manage impacts on the wider ecosystem.
While there are some environmental risks associated with these fisheries, I believe that the PIRSA is addressing them adequately. Officers from our two departments have discussed key areas requiring ongoing attention. I understand that they have agreed to a number of recommended actions, focusing on ensuring the continuation of good management practices, to be implemented before the next Australian Government review of the fishery. I note that the management arrangements, especially in terms of bycatch, are more advanced in the SGPF than the GSVPF and the WCPF, consequently, a number of recommendations require specific actions on GSVPF and WCPF with the intention of moving these fisheries closer to the level of management of the SGPF. These recommendations, attached to the letter, have been an important factor in my decision to exempt the fishery 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
5 November 2004
Recommendations to the Department of Primary Industries and Resources (PIRSA) on the ecologically sustainable management of the South Australian Prawn Trawl Fisheries
The South Australian Prawn Trawl Fisheries, comprising the are well-managed fisheries with a range of significant management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from the fisheries. These measures include:
- An adaptive real time monitoring and management system applied to each fishery;
- Area and seasonal closures;
- Restricted fishing time and small area of the fisheries actively fished; and
- Gear restrictions by type number and design
The following recommendations have been made to further strengthen the effectiveness of the management arrangements for the fishery and minimise environmental risks in the medium to longer term. The management arrangements, especially in terms of bycatch, are more advanced in the SGPF than the GSVPF and the WCPF, consequently, a number of recommendations require specific actions on GSVPF and WCPF with the intention of moving these fisheries closer to the level of management of the SGPF. PIRSA should action all recommendations before the next review in 2009 unless a specific timeframe is presented in a recommendation.
- PIRSA to advise DEH of any material change to the management arrangements for the Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery that could affect the criteria on which EPBC decisions are based, within 3 months of that change being made.
- The current review of South Australia's Fisheries Act 1982 should provide for the inclusion of general community and conservation interests on fisheries management committees. PIRSA to ensure that general community and conservation interests are provided the opportunity to engage regularly with the Prawn Fisheries Management Committee. Greater efforts should also be made to increase conservation and general community involvement in stock assessments and research priority setting processes.
- By December 2005, PIRSA to develop and implement a compliance strategy for the South Australian Prawn Fisheries that is reviewable and publicly available, to address compliance and enforcement risks identified in the compliance risk assessment of the prawn fisheries.
- By the end of 2005, PIRSA to ensure that information on the size composition of prawn catch is collected and monitored on an ongoing basis in the Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery.
- By December 2005, PIRSA to review the performance indictors and performance measures used in the assessment of Western King prawns stock status in the Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery to ensure that they are appropriately precautionary and sufficient to detect significant changes in stock status.
- PIRSA to ensure that the recreational harvest of Western King prawns is monitored and factored into the management of the Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery and the Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery.
- PIRSA to develop and implement harvest strategies for all by-product species taken in the Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Cost Prawn Fishery within two years. Harvest strategies should clearly articulate performance indicators and performance measures and any specific management arrangements to be applied to by-product species permitted in the fisheries.
- By December 2006, PIRSA to develop a system for the ongoing collection and monitoring of information on bycatch and by-product species taken in the Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery sufficient to enable identification of long-term trends in bycatch and by-product. In the event that catch levels of any bycatch or by-product species change, PIRSA will investigate suitable management responses.
- PIRSA to conduct a bycatch risk assessment in the Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery and develop suitable management responses for any species identified as high risk.
- PIRSA to continue to pursue reduction in the amount of bycatch taken in the Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery through the adoption and refinement of bycatch mitigation technology and to investigate methods for increasing the survivability of bycatch species. Any suitable methods identified will be implemented in a timely manner.
- By December 2008, PIRSA to specify bycatch indicator species for the Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery to be used to monitor the impact of the fisheries on bycatch species and/or species groups.
- By December 2005, PIRSA to introduce mandatory structured reporting of all interactions between the Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery and the West Coast Prawn Fishery and endangered, threatened or protected species. To complement such a reporting system, PIRSA to also ensure that an education program for fishers is developed and implemented to promote the importance of protected species protection and accurate incident reporting.