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Monday, 21 June 2010
Page: 3824


Senator SIEWERT (8:09 PM) —by leave—I move Australian Greens amendment (1) on sheet 6110:

(1)    Schedule 1, page 3 (after line 15), after item 2, insert:

2A  At the end of section 212

Add:

      (1A)    Paragraph (1)(r) has effect subject to the following conditions:

              (a)    that a plan of management (the plan) has been determined under section 17 of the Fisheries Management Act 1999 for the recreational fishing of the shortfin mako, longfin mako and porbeagle shark fisheries; and

              (b)    that the plan has been accredited, in writing, by the Minister; and

              (c)    that the recreational fishing referred to in the paragraph is undertaken in accordance with the plan.

       (1B)    Despite anything in the Fisheries Management Act 1999 or any other law, the Minister must not accredit a plan for the purposes of paragraph (1A)(b) unless the Minister is satisfied that the recreational fishing permitted by the plan will not lead to any significant detrimental impact on the overall numbers of shortfin mako sharks, longfin mako sharks and porbeagle sharks.

The Australian Greens also oppose schedule 1, item 8, in the following terms:

(2)    Schedule 1, item 4 (lines 31 and 32), item TO BE OPPOSED.

I will speak to both amendments, as they go together. As I was articulating in my speech in the second reading debate, the Greens are very concerned about the impacts of this bill, particularly as the amendments seek to deal only with part of the Hawke review recommendation on how to deal with these sorts of species listed under appendix II of the convention on migratory species.

As I said in my speech, that recommendation had two parts to it. The government are implementing the first part but not the second part, which is a requirement for management plans in the case of a detrimental impact. So the intent behind the amendment is to fully implement the Hawke review’s recommendation in relation to allowing the taking of migratory species listed under the Bonn convention. The recommendation is that they be allowed to be taken with an appropriate management plan in place, and that is the key here. We are seeking, as I said, to fully implement the aspect of the recommendation which the government claim they are implementing. They conveniently forgot to tell people that they are only implementing the first half of the recommendation, not the second half.

Amendment (1) provides that the new paragraph as referred to in the amendment, which exempts the taking of the mako and porbeagle sharks for recreational fishing from being an offence, is subject to the condition that a plan of management is in place and the recreational fishing is undertaken in accordance with the plan. The plan of management is to be determined under section 17 of the Fisheries Management Act, and this act already has an appropriate framework for developing plans of management for fisheries.

The intent is that the plan would be developed with full consultation with all relevant stakeholders, as happens already. The plan would then need to be accredited by the minister for the environment, and there are similar provisions in the EPBC Act allowing for the minister to accredit fisheries management plans. In other words it would not be up to AFMA; it would be up to the environment minister to accredit the plans. The minister of course could only accredit the plan if the minister is satisfied that recreational fishing permitted by the plan will not lead to any serious detrimental impact on the overall numbers of mako and porbeagle sharks, which is of course fulfilling the second section of the Hawke review recommendation on the requirements for management plans to show that there is no detrimental effect. The consequence of the amendment is that for the recreational fishing of the shark to be legal the fishing must occur in accordance with a management plan which has been accredited by the minister for the environment.

I think there has been some slight misinformation about the fact that we were trying to get AFMA controlling all this fishing. The idea is not to do that. The idea is to use the Fisheries Management Act in order to develop the plan but to hand that over to the minister for the environment. So we are trying not to put too onerous a control over the fisheries and not to have AFMA manage it but  to put in place a recognised process for preparing fishery management plans for a fishery. As I also articulated in my second reading debate speech, contrary to what the government is saying there is no sufficiently reliable data about the population status of these three species—remembering that we are talking about the shortfin and longfin makos and the porbeagle shark and that there was a clear decision under the convention to list the three species globally, not regionally, not because of Mediterranean numbers but because we do not know the population of species globally. As I also articulated, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and the west Pacific commission’s recent plans have indicated some concerns about the status of these three species.

We believe this is an important amendment that further enhances fisheries’ management measures for these species. I was pleased with and I thank the coalition for their support for our amendment on research and data collection programs and the resourcing of those, which I think shows some support for the fact that we need better data collection programs. I thank the coalition for that.

Amendment (2) opposes the provision of the bill exempting recreational fishers who take mako and porbeagle sharks from the requirement to notify the secretary of the take. Notification provisions are important to determine the effect of the amendment. I have already discussed the lack of data and the notification allows for the collection of data about the numbers of sharks being taken. We believe the management plan should, as a process, require the collection of that data. This supports that management plan.

These are two separate amendments. I thought it was preferable to address them at the same time because they work together around the fact that we believe there needs to be better management planning. These amendments could have a significant impact on these shark species. We know they are threatened and vulnerable, depending on which of the three sharks you are talking about. These amendments put a level of management over the take, which is an insurance mechanism to ensure that these species are not pushed to the point where they are severely threatened. The amendments are implementing the recommendations of the Hawke review. In fact, it was one recommendation. It was not even a two-part recommendation. The government has taken the first sentence but not the second sentence and has implemented that. I know that Senator Colbeck said that it is a short-term measure, but my dealings with short-term measures are that they usually end up being long-term measures. I have very severe concerns about (a) the precedent and (b) its not implementing the Hawke report. The government cannot say it is implementing that Hawke report. I ask the chamber to support these amendments. We think they provide a level of necessary management protection that can be afforded to these three species that are vulnerable and threatened globally and regionally.