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ENVIRONMENT—NORTH WEST SLOPE TRAWL FISHERY

Senator Siewert, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 438—That the Senate—

 (a) notes that:

 (i) trawling in the northeast area of the North West Slope Trawl Fishery, in depths of less than 200 metres off the Western Australian Kimberley coast was accidentally made possible due to an administrative error when the Western Australian and Federal Governments amended the Offshore Constitutional Settlement Agreement in 1998,

 (ii) this error accidentally allows bottom trawling in areas shallower than 200 metres despite the fact that this is a critical habitat for goldband snapper and other demersal fish species which have been off-limits to North West Slope Trawl Fishery trawlers as they are a deep water crustacean prawn fishery,

 (iii) the ecological sensitivity of this area has been acknowledged in the Australian Fisheries Management Authority's correspondence with permit holders,

 (iv) legislative instruments have been introduced prohibiting trawl fishing in this northeast area, but the most recent instrument expired in December 2010,

 (v) since that time, the closure has been maintained informally by industry self-regulation,


 (vi) negotiations between the Federal and Western Australian Governments which were intended to fix this error have stalled and the trawling industry has stated that they will commence bottom trawling in this area on the imminent cessation of the closure which is 30 September 2011,

 (vii) a resumption of trawling in this area would adversely impact the benthos and demersal fish stocks of this region, thus putting the entire ESD [ecologically sustainable development] certified Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery at great sustainable risk, and

 (viii) the Western Australian Department of Fisheries has stated in its latest State of the fisheries and aquatic resourcesreport that the demersal scalefish resources in this area are fully exploited; and

 (b) calls on the Federal Government to reinstate the North West Slope Fishery Direction No. 02 Area Closure legislative instrument which excludes trawl fishing in the northeast area of the North West Slope Trawl Fishery in Western Australia.

Question put and negatived.