Appendix 7: Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

Legislation according with ecologically sustainable development principles

AFMA’s implementation of the ecological component of ecologically sustainable development is based on ecosystem elements relating to: target and byproduct species; bycatch; threatened, endangered and protected species; and community and habitat interactions.

To support and implement an ecologically sustainable development approach in its fisheries, AFMA draws upon ecological risk assessments for each Commonwealth fishery. Ecological risk assessments involve a number of methods, including comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analyses. This approach screens out low risk activities focusing on higher potential risks within Commonwealth fisheries.

The results of these risk assessments for each fishery are consolidated into a priority list upon which an ecological risk management strategy is focused. A detailed ecological risk management strategy for each AFMA-managed fishery has been prepared, clearly identifying how each species or group of species will be managed.

Key management policy initiatives include:

  • The Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines;
  • The Australian Sea Lion Management Strategy;
  • The Upper-Slope Dogfish Management Strategy;
  • A bycatch and discard program; and
  • The Chondrichthyan Guide for Fisheries Managers.

All Commonwealth fisheries have completed and published their ecological risk management reports. The number of species remaining at high potential risk across all Commonwealth fisheries is 73, 0.6 percent of all species assessed, and it is expected that this will reduce as the mitigation measures outlined in ecological risk management reports are implemented.

Outcome contributing to ecologically sustainable development

AFMA’s outcomes are directed at Commonwealth fisheries being both ecologically sustainable and economically efficient.

This approach reflects AFMA’s commitment to pursuing management of Commonwealth fisheries in accordance with its legislative objectives and in partnership with others who also have an interest in sustainable management.

Effect of actions on the environment

All AFMA-managed fisheries are currently accredited under three parts of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Part 10 of the Act requires that all Commonwealth and Torres Strait fisheries must be strategically assessed before a management plan is determined (section 148) or, where a determination is made that a management plan is not required for a Commonwealth fishery (section 149). If a management plan is amended or replaced, or management arrangements change significantly in a fishery without a management plan then a further assessment is required (section 152). If a management plan remains unchanged, no further strategic assessment is required.

Part 13 of the Act defines a number of offences in relation to listed threatened species and ecological communities, but provides for accreditation of management plans or regimes (sections 208A, 222A, 245, 265). The effect of accreditation is that certain actions are not offences if they are carried out in accordance with those management plans or regimes. There is no requirement to remake the accreditation decisions unless the management plans or regimes change.

Part 13A of the Act covers the international movement of wildlife specimens. It provides for controls over the movement of regulated native specimens that are not on the list of exempt native specimens. Currently product from all assessed Commonwealth and Torres Strait fisheries are on the list of exempt native specimens, although some are subject to the condition that the listing applies only while a wildlife trade operation is in force.

Actions to minimise impact on environment

The development of the various elements of ecological risk management is designed to minimise the impact of fisheries on the environment.

Species identified as high risk after the application of the various ecological risk assessment methods are combined with any identified protected species to form the priority list on which AFMA focuses its ecological risk management efforts. 

Risk management strategies addressing species identified as at medium or low risk will be implemented at a later date.

Research has been commissioned to extend the ecological risk assessment methodology to habitats and communities. Extension to cumulative impacts has been identified as a priority for future research.

AFMA purchases a proportion (currently 25 percent) of green electricity as part of the Commonwealth energy contract and has seven vehicles which are part of the Greenfleet program.

AFMA has undertaken energy audits for the Canberra and Thursday Island offices. A staged implementation of the recommendations is progressing throughout the 2011 year.

AFMA uses 90 percent recycled paper in printers, copiers and fax machines.

AFMA’s premises at 73 Northbourne Avenue have an overall four-star energy rating and include zoned air-conditioning and lighting and automatic light dimming in response to daylight sensors. Additionally, intermittently used rooms and spaces are motion sensor activated.

During 2010–11 AFMA’s environment committee, Greenfish, continued its work implementing small changes around the office that can have important impacts in reducing AFMA’s environmental footprint.

Greenfish were instrumental in establishing a composting system for the Canberra office which is reducing general office waste.

Mechanisms for reviewing

A number of mechanisms exist for reviewing the effect of fishing on the environment. AFMA will conduct regular reassessments of each ecological risk assessment for Commonwealth fisheries as part of AFMA’s ecological risk management framework. AFMA also regularly reviews the other elements of the ecological risk management framework. For example the bycatch and discard workplans for each Commonwealth fishery are formally reviewed every two years.

AFMA is also subject to reassessment of all its fisheries under Part 13A of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Fisheries granted exemptions are reassessed every five years. Fisheries granted wildlife trade operations are reassessed prior to the wildlife trade operations’ expiry.

AFMA continues to minimise the impact of fisheries on the environment.

AFMA continues to minimise the impact of fisheries on the environment.