Environmental assessments

Environmental impact statements and fishery management strategies have been prepared for each of the major fisheries and activities managed by NSW DPIRD. This will help to ensure they are managed in a sustainable way.

Comprehensive Fishery Management Strategies, which include a description of the fishery and its management arrangements, have been prepared and approved by the Minister for Primary Industries. Before each Strategy was finalised, a draft strategy was subject to a comprehensive environmental impact assessment process under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

What is an environmental assessment of a fishery or activity?

An environmental assessment is an examination of the environmental impacts of fishing activities authorised under a proposed fishery management strategy. The term 'environmental' includes biological, economic and social aspects. The environmental impact statement will predict the impacts of fishing on target species, by-catch species, important fish habitat, the broader ecosystem, and economic and social issues. It also considers the impact on the resource from other fishing activities and other non-fishing activities.

What activities does this apply to?

The environmental assessment and fishery management strategy process applies to all designated fishing activities, including commercial share management fisheries, fish stocking and the beach safety (shark meshing) program.

Why prepare environmental impact statements?

The community has become more aware and is scrutinising the potential impact that fishing activities have on the environment. There are also legal requirements, under both State and Commonwealth legislation, for the environmental impact of fishing activities to be assessed.

It is widely accepted that in most cases the best way of assessing the impact of fishing activity is by considering the total impact of fishing, instead of the potentially minor impacts of individual fishers. For this reason environmental impact statements are prepared for whole fisheries, not when each individual licence is issued or renewed. The NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 was amended in December 2000 and now contains specific provisions requiring environmental impact statements to be prepared for each of the State's significant fisheries.

Additionally the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires a person to who undertakes a new action that has the potential to significantly impact on a matter of 'national environmental significance' ;(eg listed threatened species and ecological communities) to obtain a permit from the Commonwealth Minister for Environment and Heritage. The export of all marine organisms also comes under this Act and is subject to ecological sustainability assessments based on guidelines established by the Commonwealth. Commercial fishing activities that fail to be assessed as 'demonstrably sustainable' may not be able to export their product.

What is a 'fishery management strategy'?

A fishery management strategy is a document outlining the management goals, objectives, strategies for achieving the objectives (including the fishing or activity controls), performance indicators and the monitoring programs that apply to a fishery or activity.

What do fishery management strategies do?

Fishery management strategies are valuable because they:

  • provide a long term vision for management of a fishery or activity,
  • clearly outline the strategies that are in place to achieve that vision,
  • provide stakeholders with greater certainty by knowing the management programs that apply in the fishery or activity, and provide useful background information.

The strategies allow the community to scrutinise the management arrangements for each fishery or activity and seek to ensure that the management arrangements in place provide sustainable fisheries and activities into the future.

How are strategies and assessments prepared?

The preparation and assessment of fishery management strategies is a complex process that requires stakeholder and public input to ensure compliance with State and Commonwealth legislation.

The first step is to prepare a draft management strategy in consultation with the advisory body for the particular fishery or activity. An environmental impact assessment of the draft fishery management strategy is then undertaken prior to seeking stakeholder and public comment.

Once the draft management strategy and environmental assessment have been prepared, they are placed on exhibition for public comment in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS is subject to independent peer review and advice is obtained from stakeholders, scientists and agency representatives with relevant expertise and experience.

A Preferred Strategy Report is then prepared taking account of the comments received and submitted to the relevant State and Commonwealth agencies for their consideration and comment, prior to final determination by the Minister for Primary Industries.

The guidelines for commercial fisheries that have been developed to date incorporate the Commonwealth's sustainability guideline requirements prepared for use in assessing the requirements for export under the EPBC Act. The intention is that fishing activities in NSW are accredited as sustainable under both State and Commonwealth legislation.

Where an activity or fishery management strategy has not been assessed, the licences or permits issued for that activity must undergo an individual environmental assessment. This may occur in small or developmental fisheries or for other activities that are carried out on a relatively small scale.

Completed environmental assessments

Completed fishery management strategies

Fishery Management Strategy Performance Reports

Environmental Impact statements on public display

  • No EIS are currently on display