Meeting DEWHA Guidelines

Meeting DEWHA Guidelines

The changes made to Commonwealth environmental legislation that has implications for fisheries.  The change to the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports & Imports) Act 1982 (which is now part of the revised Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999) has resulted in the marine fish species which were previously exempt from any requirements under this legislation now having to undergo environmental assessment to determine if they can continue to be exported.

Similarly, the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 directly affects all commonwealth fisheries, requiring them to undergo a strategic assessment of their environmental performance.  State and territory fisheries may also be affected by this legislation if they impact upon “matters of national environmental significance”, “commonwealth waters” and “protected species”.  However, the definitions of what will trigger these three issues are rather vague.

The assessments that will need to be completed for each of these two aforementioned Acts requires the submission of applications to DEWHA against a set of guidelines for Sustainable Fisheries, which were based largely on the Marine Stewardship Council principles. The information required for these guidelines (if relevant) is covered by the retained species, non-retained species, general ecosystem and a subset of the governance components within the National framework.

To complete the applications to DEWHA, a useful method is to use the National ESD report as the general ‘CV’ of the fishery and include a relatively short application to DEWHA as a ‘front-end’ that specifically addresses each of their guidelines, principles and objectives (in a similar fashion as is normally used when applying for a job).

These responses should provide a clear summary of the information required on each of the guidelines, referring, where necessary, to the more detailed description within the National ESD report. Alternatively, the text should explain why this criterion is irrelevant for this fishery (e.g. not having a by-catch indicator species in an abalone fishery).

A generic DEWHA application ‘front-end’ has been drafted and is included in the word file below as a starting point.  This can be modified according to the specific circumstances of the fishery.  It is important to appreciate that completing this application to Environment Australia should be a relatively quick activity if an National ESD report has already been completed.

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