Protecting biodiversity

19 Aug 2016 - 16:23 | Version 2 |

The Nature Conservation Act requires a number of plans to be prepared to assist with the protection of biodiversity, as well as creating a number of offences, a licensing regime for certain activities, and requiring certain users of public or unleased land to enter into management agreements with the conservator.

Action plans

Part 4.5 of the Nature Conservation Act requires the conservator to prepare action plans for each:
  • relevant species -critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable species; and migratory species listed under the EPBC Act that regularly occur in the ACT
  • relevant ecological community - critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable ecological communities, and
  • key threatening process (s 101) unless the conservator reasonably believes that the species or ecological community does not occur in the ACT; or for vulnerable species or communities, the conservation advice for the species or community provides adequate guidance for the appropriate management of the species or community; or the species is the subject of a native species conservation plan.
A plan must set out proposals to ensure as far as practicable the identification, protection and survival of threatened species and ecological communities; and to minimise the effect of key threatening processes.

The known critical habitat for the species or community must be, and management strategies to ensure the persistence of the species or community and monitoring requirements may be, included in an action plan (s 100).

In preparing a draft action plan, the conservator must consider the impact of climate change on the species or community; threats to the species or community; the connectivity requirements and critical habitat of the species or community (s 101); and consult with the Committee (s 102).

Each action plan is first released as a draft for public comment. The conservator has to publish the draft action plan and a notice inviting written submissions about the draft action plan as a notifiable instrument under the Legislation Act 2001. The public consultation period must be at least 6 weeks (s 103).

The conservator then prepares the final action plan, taking into account any submissions. Action plans are disallowable instruments and are available on the ACT legislation register.

The Act imposes a duty on the conservator to take reasonable steps to implement action plans that are in force (s 107) and to monitor and report on their effectiveness to both the public and to the minister at least once every 5 years (s 108). Action plans are reviewed by the Committee every 10 years or at the conservator's request and recommendations can be made to amend the plans.

On transition from the Nature Conservation Act 1980 to the Nature Conservation Act 2014, all action plans in force under section 42 of the former Act were taken to be action plans under the new Act.

Several current action plans cover a threatened ecological community and the threatened native species that inhabit it, or multiple threatened native species with similar habitat requirements, in one plan, including:
  • Woodlands for Wildlife: ACT Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy (Action Plan No.27) (DI2004-52)
  • ACT Lowland Native Grassland Conservation Strategy (Action Plan No.28) (DI2005-84)
  • ACT Aquatic Species and Riparian Zone Conservation Strategy (Action Plan No.29) (DI2007-84).
In addition, action plans are in force for the Northern Corroboree Frog, the BrushTailed Rock Wallaby, the Spotted-tailed Quoll, the Glossy Black-Cockatoo, the Little Eagle, the Smoky Mouse, the Canberra Spider Orchid, the Brindabella Midge Orchid, a subalpine herb Gentiana baeuerlenii and the Murrumbidgee Bossiaea.

Action plans are important strategic and reference documents for sustainable development. They are implemented by government working in partnership with stakeholders, through the mechanisms appropriate for the land tenures to which the strategy document applies. Action plans inform the development of management plans for public land and urban planning policy development and decision-making. They have also been cited in evidence by stakeholders in legal challenges to government planning decisions, for example, in Thornbrook Pty Ltd and Cowper Pty Ltd v Commissioner for Land & Planning and Ors [2002] ACTAAT 7.

Native species conservation plans

Part 5.3 of the Nature Conservation Act empowers the conservator to prepare native species conservation plans for native species that have special protection status or other native species if the conservator considers this to be appropriate (s 117).

A native species conservation plan details how the native species may be appropriately managed and may apply across the ACT or to discrete areas within the ACT. A native species conservation plan may apply, adopt or incorporate other instruments as in force from time to time such as fisheries management plans under the Fisheries Management Act 2000 or conservation agreements under the EPBC Act (s 116).

In preparing a draft native species conservation plan, the conservator must consult the Committee and the lessee of the land (if the land is leased land) or the custodian of the land (if the land is unleased land or public land). Similarly to action plans, each draft native species conservation plan must also be released for public comment (s 120).

The conservator then prepares the native species conservation plan, taking into account any public submissions. Native species conservation plans are disallowable instruments and are available on the ACT legislation register (ss 163 and 165).

The Act imposes a duty on the conservator, the lessee of the land or the custodian of the land to take reasonable steps to implement the plan (s 124). The conservator must also monitor and publicly report on the effectiveness of a native species conservation plan and may ask the Committee to review it (s 125).

Controlled native species management plans

Chapter 7 of the Nature Conservation Act empowers the conservator to prepare controlled native species management plans for controlled native species (s 160).

A controlled native species management plan details how the native species may be appropriately managed and may apply across the ACT or to discrete areas within the ACT. Appropriate management might include prohibitions on feeding an animal species or prohibitions on the propagation of a plant species. A controlled native species management plan may apply, adopt or incorporate other instruments as in force from time to time such as conservation agreements under the EPBC Act (s 159).

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The intention is that by dealing with controlled native species in the Nature Conservation Act rather than in the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005, broader environmental issues can be considered such as the species' conservation status in the ACT or the ecological role of the species in the ecosystem.

In preparing a draft native species conservation plan, the conservator must consult the lessee (if the land is leased land) or the custodian of the land (if the land is unleased land or public land). Except in emergency situations, each draft native species conservation plan must also be released for public comment (ss 161, 162 and 164).

The conservator then prepares the final action plan, taking into account any public submissions. Action plans are notifiable instruments and are available on the ACT legislation register (ss 163 and 122).

The Act imposes a duty on the conservator and, if the land is unleased land or public land, the custodian of the land to take reasonable steps to implement the plan (s 167). The conservator must also monitor the effectiveness of a native species conservation plan and review each plan at least once every 5 years (s 125).

Offences

Division 6.1.2 of Chapter 6 of the Nature Conservation Act protects native animals by setting up a range of offence provisions. For example, a person must not, except in accordance with a licence or pursuant to a valid defence:
  • interfere with the nest of a native animal, or with anything in the immediate environment of such a nest (ss 128-129)
  • kill, injure or endanger, or take (whether dead or alive) a native animal (ss 130-132)
  • keep, sell, import or export an animal (other than an exempt animal) (ss 133-137)
  • release an animal from captivity (s 138) (see section on Licences below).
Offence provisions also apply for the protection of plants (div 6.1.3). For example, a person must not, except in accordance with a licence or in certain offence specific excepted circumstances (such as where the taking is incidental to an approved development or the maintenance of public areas):
  • take a native plant growing on unleased land. There are higher penalties where the taking is for a commercial purpose (ss 140-141)
  • take a native plant that is a protected native species or has special protection status growing on any land (ss 142-143)
  • damage a native tree on leased or unleased land, or damage or take native fallen timber on unleased land or leased land outside a built-up urban area (ss 144-146)
  • sell, or import into or export from the ACT, a native plant that is a protected native species or has special protection status (ss 147-152).
As noted above, the penalty applicable to these offences is higher where the animal or plant species involved has special protection status.

Exceptions and/or defences to prosecution are available under the Act. For example, it is a defence to a prosecution for interfering with a nest of a native animal if the defendant believed, on reasonable grounds, that the danger of death or not being able to breed did not exist, or that the nest alleged to have been interfered with was not a nest, or was not in the immediate environment of a nest (s 129(3)). It is not an offence to kill an animal if it is endangering a person, or if the death or the animal occurred by an accidental collision with a motor vehicle (s 130(3)). It is not an offence to take a protected native species if an occupier takes a plant growing on their land which they have planted or if the occupier of land in a built-up urban area takes a plant from that land.

The Environment and Planning Directorate's 2013-2014 Annual Report, which relates to a period when the former Nature Conservation Act 1980 was in force, states that 32 matters were investigated during that period. No matters were referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. One offender was issued with a formal caution under the former Act, and nine offenders were issued with eleven infringement notices. Three offenders were issued with formal cautions under the Tree Protection Act and five investigations remained active in relation to the former Act. Minor offences, such as walking a dog off a lead in a reserve area were reported during this period. The report also noted regular liaison between Parks and Conservation Service rangers and the Australian Federal Police Rural Patrol.

Penalties

The Nature Conservation Act includes various offence and penalty provisions. Penalties under the Act can be substantial. For example, the maximum penalty for interference with a nest that endangers the life of the animal or its progeny, or places the animal in danger of not being able to breed, can be up to 200 penalty units, or imprisonment for two years, or both, if the animal has special protection status. If the animal does not have special protection status, the maximum penalty can be up to 100 penalty units, imprisonment for one year or both. Under the Legislation Act 2001 (ACT), a penalty unit is currently $150 for an individual and $750 for a corporation.

Different penalties apply depending on the level of fault for some offences. For example, the maximum penalties for clearing native vegetation in a reserve which causes serious harm vary. For example, if the offence was:
  • deliberate, the penalty can be up to 2,500 penalty units, imprisonment for seven years or both
  • reckless, the penalty can be up to 2,000 penalty units, imprisonment for five years or both
  • negligent, the penalty can be up to 1,500 penalty units, imprisonment for three years or both (s 234).
If charged with a strict liability offence, the maximum penalty can be 50 penalty units. Strict liability means that there are no fault elements for the physical elements of the offence (Criminal Code 2002 (ACT), s 23(a)). In other words, for a strict liability offence, the prosecution need only to prove that the accused's conduct was in contravention of the Act. The prosecution does not need to prove that the accused intended to contravene the Act. However, for strict liability offences, the accused may raise the defence that they made an honest and reasonable mistake as to the facts in relation to the physical elements (s 23(b)).

Licences

Chapter 11 of the Nature Conservation Act enables the conservator to licence various activities, which would otherwise be prohibited under the Act, by granting a nature conservation licence (s 262). The conservator may only issue a nature conservation licence if reasonably satisfied that the applicant, each influential person for the applicant where the applicant is a corporation, and any person who will have management or control of the activity, is a suitable person to hold the licence and that the activity is a suitable activity for the licence (s 273).

In deciding whether a person is suitable to hold a nature conservation licence, the conservator must consider a range of 'suitability information' which is listed in section 266 of the Act and includes:
  • any conviction of, or finding of guilt against, the person for an offence against a range of ACT and State or Commonwealth environmental and animal protection Acts
  • any other non-compliance with such Acts
  • any prior refusal of a licence, permit or other authority under such Acts
  • other matters prescribed by regulation, and may consider further requested personal information about the person, and each influential person for the applicant if the applicant is a corporation (s 267).
Under section 268, certain activities may be prescribed by regulation as unsuitable activities (see Part 3 of the Nature Conservation Regulation 2015). Outside of these activities, the conservator may decide under section 268 whether an activity is suitable, but in doing so must consider:
  • suitability information about the activity, which includes information about the impact of the activity on the animal, plant or land, information about the purposes of the activity (e.g. scientific, education, commercial), the place where the activity is to be carried out, the number and species of each native species involved in the activity and any other matters prescribed by regulation (s 269)
  • any further information requested by and given to the conservator (s 270)
  • a risk management plan addressing risks to people and property, if the conservator requires the applicant to prepare one (s 271)
  • the results of any inspection of a place where an animal is to be kept, if required by the conservator (s 272)
  • if the activity involves a species, ecological community or key threatening process covered by an action plan, a native species conservation plan, or a controlled native species management plan - the applicable plan (s 268(2)(e)-(g))
  • if the activity is to be carried out in a reserve - the planning and development management objectives for the reserve and any applicable IUCN reserve management objectives (s 268(2)(h)) (see Chapter 7 in this Handbook for more information on the ACT reserve system)
  • if the activity is to be carried out in a resource protection area - the purpose of the resource protection area declaration (s 268(2)(i)).
If the activity being considered for a nature conservation licence is to be carried out in a reserve, the conservator must also consult with the custodian of the reserve. A nature conservation licence is subject to conditions prescribed by the Act, by regulation or that the conservator reasonably believes are necessary to meet the objects of the Act (for example, requiring compliance with a native species conservation plan, limiting the season when an activity can be carried on or the purpose for which an activity can be carried on, or requiring that a financial assurance be given where there is a likelihood that the licensed activity will cause serious or material environmental damage) (s 274). A licence can be issued for a maximum of 5 years (s 276) and provision is made for their amendment, transfer and renewal (see pt 11.5).

It is an offence to fail to comply with any licence condition (s 263). Further if a licensee has contravened, or is contravening, a provision of the Nature Conservation Act, regulatory action can be taken. Regulatory action includes imposing a condition on, or amending a condition on a licence, suspending a licence, cancelling a licence, and disqualifying a person from applying for a licence for a specified period (see pt 11.6). The Act also provides the minister with the power to determine fees (s 368). The current fees are prescribed under the Nature Conservation (Fees) Determination 2015 (No 1) DI2015-119. In addition, if a licence authorises a licensee to take a native animal, a native plant, or native timber, and the licensee sells or otherwise disposes of that animal, plant or timber, the licensee must pay a royalty, prescribed by regulation, to the ACT.

Under the Nature Conservation Act, persons are required to hold a licence for keeping any parts of animals or whole animals, dead or alive, unless the animals are exempt, or suffering from a disease, illness or injury and being kept for up to 48 hours to be given to a conservation officer, veterinary surgeon or someone licensed to keep the animal (s 134). A licence is also required to take from the wild any native animal, dead or alive, or part of an animal (including exempt animals). A licence is not required to keep, sell, import or export exempt animals. However, the animals must come from a legal source. Licensees authorised to carry on activities involving animals or plants must keep prescribed records (s 306).

If a person applies for a nature conservation licence that authorises the person to access biological resources for commercial purposes in a reserve, that person must generally enter into a benefitsharing agreement with the ACT and, if native title holders exists in relation to the reserve, with the native title holders for the reserve (the access providers) to enable the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of the resources (see pt 8.5). Biological resources are defined to include genetic resources, organisms or parts of organisms, populations of species or ecological communities, and any other biotic component of an ecosystem with actual or potential use or value for humanity (s 204).

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It is an offence to access biological resources in a reserve without a licence unless the person accessing the resources is the access provider or the biological resources are exempted (ss 208-209). These provisions give effect to the 2010 Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation, which is a protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Australia signed the Nagoya Protocol in 2012, but has not yet ratified it and as a consequence, it is not yet binding on Australia.

In the financial year 2013-14 the conservator issued 783 'keep' licences under the former Nature Conservation Act 1980, permitting the private and commercial keeping of non-exempt native animals including birds, reptiles, and amphibians and a small number of exotic species. Most of these were renewals. The conservator also issued:
  • 134 licences to import a non-exempt animal into the ACT
  • 58 licences to export a non-exempt animal from the ACT
  • 95 licences to take a native flora and fauna from the wild for scientific research
  • 8 licences to remove and/or interfere with the nest of a native animal (related to authorised tree removal and relocation of the nest and animal).

Native reptile policy

The ACT Native Reptile Policy, which can be accessed from the TAMs website (see Contacts list at the back of this book), illustrates how these provisions work in practice. Native reptiles (lizards, snakes and turtles), whether alive or dead, may not be taken from the wild without a licence. The ACT has published the reptile policy to establish guidelines for assessing applications for licences and to regulate the keeping of reptiles. For hobbyists, no licence is required to keep exempt animals, which currently include captive-bred common Long-Necked Turtle (Chelodina longicollis), Eastern-Blue Tongue (Tiliqua scincoides), Blotched Blue-Tongue (Tiliqua nigrolutea), Shingleback Lizard (Trachydosaurus rugosus), and Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbatus). These are referred to as Category A species. Category B species, currently comprised of 18 species, are captive-bred species that may be held by experienced amateurs with at least two years experience in keeping one or more species from a family in Category A. Category C contains 28 species and is reserved for captive-bred reptiles suitable for keeping for hobby purposes for highly experienced herpetologists. Applicants must have at least one year's experience with keeping Category B species.

The policy allows licences to be granted to take non-venomous reptiles from the wild for scientific or educational purposes, and venomous reptiles to be taken from the wild for scientific purposes. When practicable these animals must be released at the capture site at the completion of the scientific study or educational exercise or surrendered to the Service. Currently, suitably experienced members of the ACT Herpetological Association (see Contacts list at the back of this book) are permitted to take locally occurring non-venomous reptiles from the wild for the purpose of study at association meetings. As a condition of their licence, animals are released at the site of capture within 72 hours and records of take and release must be kept. There are rules governing the purchase and sale of animals, and the disposal of live and dead animals surrendered to the Service.

Reptiles kept for scientific purposes must be kept at approved institutions, or if kept by private individuals at private residences, must be kept under a scientific project approved by the conservator. All reptiles must be kept in line with the relevant institution's ethics committee's requirements and must not be in breach of any ACT legislation. The offspring of reptiles kept for scientific study cannot be disposed of without prior consent of the conservator.

Licences are rarely issued in relation to animals with special protection status, including migratory animals that are subject to a Commonwealth convention, treaty or agreement, and species vulnerable to or threatened with extinction. Under normal circumstances licences to keep reptiles belonging to this category will not be issued unless the conservator determines that the activity enhances the protection of the animal.

The deliberate cross-breeding (hybridisation) of captive reptile species and subspecies is not considered to be a desirable aim for the management of captive reptiles. In order to prevent possible genetic contamination of captive and wild populations, species or subspecies capable of hybridising must be housed separately.

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Management agreements

The conservator has the power under the Nature Conservation Act to propose a management agreement to a supplier of gas, electricity, water, sewerage, navigation or telecommunication services or an entity responsible for the development of land (an agency) where the agency's activities affect, or may affect, public land or unleased territory land, and the conservator reasonably believes the activities may conflict with the management objectives for the land (s 311).

Under section 310, agency management agreements may deal with any or all of the following issues: access to land; fire management; drainage; management and maintenance of public or private facilities; rehabilitation of land or public or private facilities; indemnities; emergency procedures; internal stockpiling; fencing; feral animals and weed control.

In addition, under the Planning and Development Act 2007 (ACT), a rural lease will only be granted, renewed, varied or assigned if the person whose lease is renewed or varied, or the person to whom the lease is being assigned or granted, has entered into a management agreement with the ACT government, through the conservator (s 283).

Management agreements are important because they enable a landscape-scale approach to resource management to be adopted, embracing public lands and private lands such as rural leases. This is necessary because although the territory has an extensive amount of land that is protected, significant biodiversity, including remnant vegetation and important local habitat elements such as streams and hollow-bearing trees, are also found on rural leases and public land outside the reserve system.

Conservator's directions and treatment directions

Under section 331 of the Nature Conservation Act, the conservator can give the occupier of land directions for the protection or conservation of native species, ecological communities or the habitat of such species or communities on the land if the conservator reasonably believes that there is conduct that the occupier may engage in that may threaten the natives species, community or habitat or could engage in that would promote the protection or conservation of the natives species, community or habitat. The directions must be consistent with applicable conservation advice, action plans, native species conservation plans or controlled native species management plans. Directions must specify a time limit on compliance. It is an offence to fail to comply with a conservator's direction and the penalties are higher if the direction relates to a native species with special protection status, a threatened ecological community, the habitat of such species or communities, or a Ramsar Wetland

(s 332).

The conservator can also direct the owner of a diseased native animal or plant to treat the animal or plant in a particular way if they reasonably believe that it is necessary or desirable. In making a treatment direction, the conservation has regard to the likelihood of the disease infecting other animals or plants, the impact if it were to do so, matters relevant to the protection or conservation of native animals and plants and any other matter prescribed by regulation (s 333). It is an offence to fail to comply with a treatment direction (s 334). Where the owner does not comply with the notice, or does, but the animal or plant does not respond satisfactorily, the conservator can require the animal or plant to be delivered up or destroyed. If the owner still does not comply, a conservation officer may enter the land or premises where the animal is kept and seize it and then carry out treatment or dispose of or destroy the animal as he or she thinks fit (s 335).

To date, issues have generally been managed through management agreements or by negotiation.

Review by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Chapter 15 of the Nature Conservation Act allows listed entities to seek review of specified decisions before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) (s 362(a) and sch 1). Third parties can seek review of a 'reviewable decision' if they can show that their interests are affected by the decision (s 362(b); sch 1 and s22 Q of the ACAT Act). See, for example, Animal Liberation ACT v Conservator of Flora and Fauna [2014] ACAT 35. Reviewable decisions of the conservator include those concerning directions, licences, licence conditions, and the taking of regulatory action (see Schedule 1 in the Act for a complete list of reviewable decisions) (see Chapter 12 in this Handbook for more information about appealing to ACAT).

Wildlife in the suburbs

Residents have various responsibilities when native animals are in their suburb. For example, all snakes are protected under the Nature Conservation Act and cannot be killed unless they threaten life. Possums are also protected and cannot be trapped, killed or removed without a licence. The solution to possums living in the roof space is to block up any holes that allow them to get in, and then enjoy their antics outside. To assist the community to understand the importance of urban habitats and managing threats to that habitat, the Natural Heritage Trust and partner organisations supported the 2006 publication by ANUgreen entitled 'Life in the Suburbs: Urban Habitat Guidelines for the ACT' (see Contacts list at the back of this book).

Domestic Animals

Domestic pets pose one of the most significant threats to urban biodiversity. The Domestic Animals Act 2000 (ACT) provides for the identification and registration of certain animals and the duties of owners, carers and keepers. The Act provides for the mandatory registration of dogs, and requires keepers of declared dangerous dogs to hold a licence. A code of practice has also been approved under Part 4 of the Domestic Animals Regulation 2001, titled the Domestic Animals (Implanting Microchips in Dogs and Cats) Code of Practice 2008 (No 2) DI2008-73. Dogs over six months of age and cats over three months of age must be de-sexed unless a permit is issued otherwise (s 74). The aim of these provisions is to reduce the number of unwanted domestic pets, many of which the RSPCA euthanase each year, and to reduce predation of native wildlife in Canberra. With limited exceptions, a multiple licence is required to keep four or more cats or dogs on residential premises (ss 18, 84A).

The Domestic Animals Act also empowers the minister to declare a cat curfew (s 81) if cats in a particular area are a serious threat to native flora and fauna. The suburbs of Bonner, Coombs, Crace, Denman Prospect, Forde, Jacka, Lawson, Molongo, Moncrieff, Wright, and parts of Watson are cat containment areas. Cats located in these areas must be confined to premises at all times (see the Domestic Animals (Cat Containment) Declaration 2015 (No 1) (ACT) DI2015 - 11). Areas can also be designated as dog exercise and dog-on-leash areas (see Domestic Animals (Dog Control Areas) Declaration 2005 (No 1) (ACT) DI2005-198). The Domestic Animals Act includes offence and penalty provisions. Infringement notices can be issued under the Magistrates Court Act 1930 (ACT) and the Magistrates Court (Domestic Animals Infringement Notices) Regulation 2005 (ACT) SL2005-29.

Pest plants and animals

As noted above, biodiversity in the ACT is threatened by pest plants and animals. Invasive species impact adversely on natural resources and agricultural activities. The Pest Plant and Animals Act 2005 (ACT) establishes a system for declaring plants and animals to be pests. Declarations may prescribe management actions and can require occupiers of premises to notify the appropriate authorities about the presence of a declared species.

Directions may be issued under Part 4 of the Act to the occupier of premises to eradicate or control pest plants or pest animals consistent with declared management plans. Contravention of a pest management direction is established as an offence carrying a penalty of up to 50 penalty units (s 27) and where a person has not undertaken something required by a direction, an authorised person may do so at the reasonable cost of the occupier (s 28).

The Pest Plant and Animals Act (Parts 2 and 3) also prohibits the propagation, importation and supply of certain pest plants or pest animals, or material contaminated with certain declared pest plants or pest animals. The Act establishes offences for activities, such as the use of vehicles and machinery contaminated with a prohibited pest plant or animal (ss 13 and 21) or the disposal of prohibited pest plants or animals or things contaminated with prohibited pest plants or animals, which would result, or be likely to result, in the spread of prohibited pest plants or pest animals (ss 15 and 24). Infringement notices can be issued under the Magistrates Court (Pest Plants and Animals Infringement Notices) Regulation 2005 (ACT) SL2005-34.

Fisheries Act 2000

The objects of the Fisheries Act 2000 (ACT) are to conserve native fish species and their habitats, manage ACT fisheries sustainably, provide high quality and viable recreational fishing, and cooperate with other Australian jurisdictions in sustaining fisheries and protecting native fish species (s 3).

The Fisheries Act enables fishing closures (s 13) and other restrictions to be declared. The Fisheries Act provides four types of licence: commercial fishers; fish dealers; dealers in priority species; and an import/export licence (for live fish) (s 19). Under the Fisheries Act, there are restrictions on the number and size of fish that can be taken from public waters and it is an offence to disturb or damage spawn or spawning fish. To assist with sustainable fisheries management, under Part 2 of the Act, the conservator can prepare draft fisheries management plans about which he or she must invite written submissions before submitting the plan to the minister. The Act also includes offence and record-keeping provisions, authorises various conservation officers' powers, and provides for review of decisions.

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