Andrew McNee, Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 28 November 2005
The Hon Jon Ford MLC
Minister for Fisheries
14th Floor May Holman Centre
32 St George's Terrace
West Perth WA 6005
As Delegate of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, I am writing to you in relation to the assessment of the South Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery and the West Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). In August 2005 the Department of Fisheries, Western Australia (DFWA) submitted the document entitled Application to Department of Environment and Heritage on the West Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery and South Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery for assessment under the EPBC Act.
The submission has been assessed for the purposes of the protected species provisions of Part 13 and 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 website at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/wa/purse-seine/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 South Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery and the West Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery meet the requirements of Part 13 of the EPBC Act and I propose to accredit the management arrangements 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 satisfied that the operations of the fisheries are consistent with the objects of the wildlife trade provisions in Part 13A of the EPBC Act. I am also satisfied that they are unlikely to be detrimental to the survival or conservation status of any taxon to which the fisheries operations relate, or threaten any relevant ecosystem. The fisheries are relatively well managed and operate under adaptable and precautionary regimes capable of controlling, monitoring and enforcing the level of take from the fisheries. 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 each fishery an approved Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO), under Part 13A of the EPBC Act. These declarations would allow the export of product from the fisheries for the next three years. I will make the declarations subject to the conditions at Attachment A.
I also propose to include product from these WTO fisheries on the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that exporters would not require EPBC Act export permits. The fisheries would continue to operate as WTO's for the period of the declaration (3 years) and all WTO conditions would continue to apply.
The management regimes aim 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 fisheries are being managed in an ecologically sustainable manner and are working to address existing problems and to minimise environmental risks.
While there are some environmental risks associated with these fisheries, I believe that DFWA 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 each 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
28 November 2005
Conditions on the approved wildlife trade declaration for the West Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery and South Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery
- Operation of the fisheries will be carried out in accordance with the South Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery and the West Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery management regimes in force under the South Coast Purse Seine Limited Entry Fishery Notice 1994 and the West Coast Purse Seine Limited Entry Fishery Notice 1989, respectively, and the Western Australian Fish Resources Management Act 1994.
- The Department of Fisheries, Western Australia to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage of any material change to the South Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery and West Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery's legislated management plans that could affect the criteria on which Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 EPBC Act decisions are based, within three months of that change being made.
- Reports to be produced and presented to the Department of the Environment and Heritage annually, and to include:
- information sufficient to allow assessment of the progress of the Department of Fisheries, Western Australia in implementing the recommendations made in the Assessment of the South Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery and West Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery;
- a description of the status of the fisheries and catch and effort information;
- a statement of the performance of the fisheries against objectives, performance indicators and measures once developed; and
- research undertaken or completed relevant to the fisheries.
Recommendations to the Department of Fisheries, Western Australia (DFWA) on the ecologically sustainable management of the South Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery (SCPSMF) and West Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery (WCPSMF)
The SCPSMF and WCPSMF are relatively well-managed fisheries with a range of management measures to promote the ecologically sustainable harvesting of species from each fishery. Management measures include limited entry, gear restrictions, spatial and temporal closures and quota restrictions. 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 fisheries are 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. DFWA should action these recommendations before the next review in 2008 or within the timeframe specified in individual recommendations.
- DFWA to advise the Department of the Environment and Heritage of any material change to the SCPSMF and WCPSMF's legislated management plans that could affect the criteria on which Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) decisions are based, within three months of that change being made.
- The Ecologically Sustainable Development Report, including all performance measures, responses and information requirements to be incorporated into the management regime and decision making process.
- DFWA to incorporate into the management regime, objectives to maintain at sustainable levels the take of all target and byproduct species, minimise protected/listed species interactions, to minimise or maintain at sustainable levels the take of other non-retained species and to minimise impacts on the marine environment. Appropriate performance measures and indicators should accompany each objective.
- DFWA, in its Annual State of the Fisheries Report, to report on the performance of the fisheries against performance measures that relate to the sustainability of the fisheries.
- DFWA to commence, in the 2006/07 fishing season, ongoing monitoring of the age composition of commercial catches of scaly mackerel in the WCPSMF, as part of a process to develop precautionary harvest limits for scaly mackerel by the end of 2007.
- DFWA to finalise and implement the proposed new management plan for the WCPSMF in time for the 2008/09 season. In the interim, DFWA to develop a catch validation system for the commencement of the 2007/08 season.
- DFWA to implement a program sufficient to obtain base-line data on abundance and composition of bycatch and level of interactions with protected/listed species.
- DFWA to provide a mechanism, within 1 year, which allows fishers to record interactions with protected/listed species. DFWA to implement relevant protected species identification and handling procedures from the Manual for Setting Protocol, Wildlife Interactions and Species Identification to ensure that industry has the capacity to make these reports at an appropriate level of accuracy.
- DFWA to develop specific performance measures and indicators for interactions with flesh-footed shearwaters and dolphins and to report annually on the performance of the SCPSMF and WCPSMF at minimising seabird and dolphin interactions.
- Within 1 year, DFWA to trial mitigation mechanisms to minimise protected/listed species interactions, particularly with flesh-footed shearwaters in the SCPSMF. Mitigation measures considered should include spatial and temporal closures, effective deterrents and/or appropriate net setting and handling protocols, and be implemented within six months of being demonstrated effective.