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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Western Australian Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Kim Chance

15 November 2002

Western Rock Lobster Fishery Recognised for its Environmental Performance


Western Australia's Western Rock Lobster Fishery will be able to forge new export markets and promote existing ones after recognition that the industry is being managed sustainably.

The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Western Australian Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Kim Chance, today announced that the Western Rock Lobster Fishery has gained exemption from the export controls under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Dr Kemp said only fisheries that can demonstrate they are being managed in an ecological sustainable way will not require an export permit under the EPBC Act.

"These export controls are designed to ensure that trade does not threaten Australia's wildlife," Dr Kemp said.

"In the past, the focus of fishery management has been on protecting target species from overfishing. Now, with Australia strongly committed to the principles of ecologically sustainable development, the focus is on managing the total impact of fishing on the environment.

"The Commonwealth Government has developed a range of criteria to assess the ecological sustainability of each fishery. The criteria ensure fish and other marine wildlife enjoy the same protection as other native wildlife.

I am pleased that the assessment of the Western Rock Lobster fishery has now been finalised and demonstrates this fishery is being managed sustainably. The approval under the EPBC Act will provide increased certainty for fishery operators, processors and exporters, and will strengthen the environmental performance of the industry," Dr Kemp said.

Mr Chance said the exemptions from Environment Australia would be a boost for Western Australia's rock lobster industry. Export earnings are already worth $375 million annually to the Western Australian economy.

"I am delighted this fishery is being rewarded for good management," Mr Chance said.

"The granting of the exemption demonstrates that Western Australia's management arrangements for fisheries are working.

"The exemption will last for five years, but the accreditation for the fishery includes a number of recommendations on how to improve and maintain the demonstrated level of ecological sustainability. These recommendations are in line with the ongoing refinement in management of the fishery and should be easily incorporated," Mr Chance said.

All marine fisheries with an export component are required to be assessed under the EPBC Act before December 2003.

For more information on the ecologically sustainable use and conservation of the marine environment by commercial fishers and aquaculture visit the Environment Australia web site at: www.ea.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/

Contacts:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's Office) (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Mike Marren (Minister Chances's Office) (08) 9213 6700 or 0428 911 240

Commonwealth of Australia