Legislation and approvals

Legislation

DPI administers the key pieces of legislation that identify and protect threatened fish and marine vegetation in NSW: the Fisheries Management Act 1994 and the Fisheries Management (General) Regulation 2010.

The Office of Environment and Heritage administers the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

Matters of national significance are administered by the national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

A licence may be required under section 220ZW of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 if an action is likely to result in:

  • harm to a threatened species, population or ecological community;
  • damage to critical habitat; or
  • damage to the habitat of a threatened species, population or ecological community.

Applying for a section 220ZW licence

How DPI processes licence applications

When a section 220ZW licence application form is received, DPI assesses the proposed action to determine whether it is likely to have a significant impact on threatened species or their habitat, including critical habitat. There are a number of possible outcomes:

  1. DPI could determine that the action is not likely to significantly affect threatened species, populations or ecological communities or their habitat, and could issue a certificate to this effect. There may or may not be conditions that will need to be met.
  2. DPI could grant a licence under section 220ZW of the Fisheries Management Act if the proposed action is likely to have a significant effect on threatened species, populations or ecological communities or their habitat, or if the action is on land that is critical habitat, in which case a species impact statement will be requested when making a licence application determination.
  3. DPI could refuse the application.

Licence applications that are accompanied by a species impact statement are advertised by DPI and the public are given the opportunity to provide written submissions on the proposed action.

Some applications can take longer to process due to the nature and complexity of the proposed actions. Should a licence be issued it will appear in the public register.

Current licences in force

A Ministerial order may be required under section 221IA of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 to authorise a class of persons to carry out an activity that may result in:

  • harm to a threatened species, population or ecological community; or
  • damage to the habitat of a threatened species, population or ecological community.

Prior to making an order, a species impact statement must be prepared and the Minister must consult the Fisheries Scientific Committee, relevant advisory councils, and give the public an opportunity to make written submissions on the proposed order.

The Minister may also make an interim order to permit the continuation of an existing activity following the listing of a new threatened species, population or ecological community, if reasonably necessary to reduce social and economic impacts during the assessment of a proposed Ministerial order. Interim orders may only remain in force for a period not exceeding 6 months, however they may be remade if required.

List of Ministerial orders and interim orders in force.

The Minister for Primary Industries may enter into a joint management agreement under s. 221V of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 with another public authority. The purpose of a joint management agreement is to manage, regulate or restrict an action that is jeopardising the survival of a threatened species, population or ecological community.

A joint management agreement for the NSW Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program has been prepared between the Department of Primary Industries and the Chief Executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage. The objectives of the joint management agreement are to:

  • minimise the impact of shark meshing on marine mammals, marine reptiles, marine birds, fish and marine vegetation that are a threatened species, population or ecological community or are protected fauna or protected fish and
  • ensure that shark meshing does not jeopardise the survival or conservation status of threatened species, populations or ecological communities, or cause species that are not threatened to become threatened.

The joint management agreement is supported by a management plan.

Role of the Fisheries Scientific Committee

Before the Minister enters into a joint management agreement, the document must be provided to the Fisheries Scientific Committee for review, and the public must be given an opportunity to make submissions on the draft agreement.

The Fisheries Scientific Committee must also conduct an annual review of the performance of all parties to a joint management agreement and advise the Minister of any deficiencies in implementation of any joint management agreement by any party to it. These reviews are available at NSW Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program.