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Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment



Indicator: Harvesting Native Species

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Summary

There is little harvesting of native species in the ACT. Some taking and use occurs including recreational fishing, kangaroo culling, scientific collecting, and seed harvesting.

Licences are needed to keep, export, import, sell and kill animals in the ACT. Annual kangaroo culling did not vary significantly in the reporting period. Recreational fishing for native species is based mainly on stocking of urban lakes.

Hardwood firewood sourced from outside the ACT has biodiversity impacts. Firewood sale came under government regulation in 2001, mainly for consumer protection.

What the results tell us about the ACT

Impact of recreational fishing is unknown

While fish monitoring has been undertaken in the ACT from the 1970s, there are few reliable data on the catch by recreational fishers.

Surveys shed some light

Surveys with relatively small sample numbers were conducted on Lake Ginninderra (2000–02, 119 fishers) (CIT 2003) and the Murrumbidgee River (1999–2001, 73 fishers) (McGovern & Lintermans 2002), using a creel (a large fishing basket). The data from both surveys show a low catch level for native species with most being released. Introduced Redfin Perch, Perca fluviatilis, (Lake Ginninderra) and Carp, Cyprinus carpio, (Murrumbidgee River) dominated catches. There are occasional media reports of large (25–45kg) Murray Cod, Maccullochella peelii peelii, from Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra. These fish are derived from the stocking program.

There is not much information on how well fishers understand the restrictions applying to ACT threatened fish species (Macquarie Perch Macquaria australasica , Trout Cod Maccullochella macquariensis , Two-spined Blackfish Gadopsis bispinosus , Murray River Crayfish Euastacus armatus – which is treated as a fish for legislative purposes – and Silver Perch Bidyanus bidyanus ) that are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1980. In the creel surveys above, only 51% of Lake Ginninderra fishers indicated they were aware of the ACT fishing regulations (CIT 2003).

Murrumbidgee survey of fishers discovers illegal fishing

In the Murrumbidgee survey, while all Murray Cod, Golden Perch, Macquarie Perch and Silver Perch were released, two anglers at Angle Crossing were targeting Trout Cod that have been stocked in that section of the river as part of a national recovery plan.

A Murray Crayfish captured at Kambah Pool was illegally taken. These actions were probably carried out deliberately, rather than being due to ignorance, and point to the need for ongoing education and law enforcement.

Under the Fisheries Act there are a number of permanently closed waters. These are the Cotter River catchment above the Bendora Dam wall, Cotter River and reservoir from the Cotter Dam wall to Pierces Creek, upper sections of the Orroral and Tidbinbilla rivers, and the Murrumbidgee River from near Angle Crossing to the confluence with the Gudgenby River.

Kangaroos not commercially harvested

There is no commercial harvesting of kangaroos in the ACT, nor is any planned. The ACT may consider seeking inclusion in a survey of kangaroos to be conducted in nearby areas of New South Wales (encompassed by the Braidwood, Cooma, Goulburn, Gundagai and Yass Rural Land Protection Boards), which are considering commercial culling.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos Macropus giganteus , may be culled on rural leases and public land in the ACT to reduce grazing pressure.

Environment ACT issues licences for culling which must be carried out in accordance with the Code of Page 2 Practice – The humane destruction of kangaroos in the ACT . Table 1 shows that the number culled has been less than the licensed numbers.


Table 1: Number of kangaroos culled in the ACT, 2000–03
Year Number permitted to cull Number actually culled
2000 4020 2496
2001 3077 2419
2002 3732 2921
2003 3745 2431

Source: Data from Environment ACT

Licence to take native animals is required

In 2002, in response to reports of native animals (mainly birds) being taken from the wild, Environment ACT gave publicity to the importance of native wildlife to the ACT and fines under the Nature Conservation Act for removing wildlife. Keeping, selling, importing and exporting animals (native and exotic) for private use requires a licence (see Table 2).

Between 1 January 2000 and 27 June 2003, 164 scientific licences were issued for the taking or killing of native animals or picking of native plants for a demonstrated future wildlife management benefit or scientific and/or educational benefit.


Table 2: Licences to keep, export, import, sell and kill in the ACT 2000–03
Details of licence Native and exotic animals Native Kill
Keep Export Import Sell
Licences 1112 219 383 236 64
Duration
Private 5 yrs 5 yrs 5 yrs 5 yrs na
Organisations Generally 1 year or specified period Specified period Specified period Specified period Usually specified and limited period*
Commercial na Annual or specified period Annual or specified period Annual or specified period na

*Mainly for kangaroo culling conducted by licensed shooters (see above). Source: Data from Environment ACT.

Firewood use a concern

Total annual firewood usage in the ACT is not known. Following preparation of the ACT Firewood Strategy in 1999, the ACT Government has taken action to regulate the sale and supply of firewood in the ACT. The authorisation conditions are aimed primarily at consumer protection rather than biodiversity conservation.

Following licensing of firewood merchants under amendments to the Environment Protection Act 1997which commenced on 5 April 2001, the amount of firewood sold each year must now be reported by merchants (see Table 3). This amount does not include privately sourced wood, wood cut (under permit) from softwood plantations, and packaged wood sold at service stations and other outlets.

Estimates higher than sales suggest

Total ACT firewood consumption is estimated to be about 45,000 tonnes per annum (Freudenberger 2003) with some higher estimates (40,000–60,000 tonnes per annum (Maxwell 2003)).

These figures are substantially higher than the merchant sales shown in Table 3. Estimates based on the number of wood heaters and open fires in ACT homes may not be a reliable guide to firewood consumption as it is likely that a significant proportion of these are not the main source of heating and may only be used occasionally. In the 2003–04 ACT budget the government introduced a wood heater replacement program with subsidies of $400 to $800 for replacement of wood heaters with gas or electricity.


Table 3: Firewood sales by licensed merchants in the ACT, 2001 data only
Source region % of total Firewood sold to users Firewood sold to merchants
Non-plantation Plantation Non-plantation Plantation
Western NSW 77.3% 14,988.35 t 960.5 t 16.4 t 65.6 t
South-eastern NSW 11.6% 1,923.78 t 87 t 400 t
Eastern Victoria 4.6% 950 t
ACT 6.5% 129 t 1,216.82 t
Other (South east Qld) 0.05% 10 t
Totals 1,7051.13 t 3,214.32 t 416.4 t 65.6 t
Grand total 20,747.75 t
Total plantation wood = 17,467.53t (84%)
Total non-plantation wood = 3,279.92t (16%)

Source: Data from Environment ACT

Hardwoods the main fuel

Although there has been promotion of the use of softwood residues following logging from ACT pine plantations, hardwoods imported into the Territory continue to be the major fuel source for wood heating. Destruction of large areas of softwood plantation in the bushfires of December 2001 and January 2003 will limit the future use of local softwood for heating.

Illegal clearing prosecuted

In 2001, New South Wales electricity distributor, Transgrid, cleared without approval a 3.75 kilometre section of native vegetation under power lines in the north-western part of the Namadgi National Park ( The Canberra Times , 18 April 2002, p.7).

In an out-of-court settlement in 2002, the company agreed to pay the ACT $350,000 compensation, with $120,000 for ongoing monitoring of the affected area and $230,000 for environmental projects. Following the incident, a memorandum of understanding was developed between Transgrid and Environment ACT as a basis for future maintenance of the power line easement.

Data sources and references

Canberra Institute of Technology 2003, Final Report Creel and Recall Survey for Natural Heritage Trust , Canberra Institute of Technology, School of Applied Science.

Driscoll, DD, Milkovits G & Freudenberger, D 2000, Impact and use of firewood in Australia , CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra.

Freudenberger, D 2003, ‘The impact and use of firewood in Australia’, presentation to workshop: Achieving an Ecologically Sustainable Firewood Industry in the ACT, March 2003 , Conservation Council of the South East Region and Canberra and Environment ACT.

Garnett, S and Crowley, GM 2000, The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 , Environment Australia, Canberra.

Lintermans, M 2000, The Status of Fish in the Australian Capital Territory: a review of Current Knowledge and Management Requirements , Technical Report 15, Environment ACT, Canberra.

Maxwell, K 2003, ‘The Conservation Council’s firewood campaign in the ACT 1991–2002’, presentation to workshop: Achieving an Ecologically Sustainable Firewood Industry in the ACT, March 2003 , Conservation Council of the South East Region and Canberra and Environment ACT.

McGovern, A and Lintermans, M 2002, A Creel Survey of Fish in the Murrumbidgee River, Australian Capital Territory , ActewAGL, Natural Heritage Trust, Fisheries Action Program, RECFISH Australia, Australian National Sportfishing Association, Canberra Fisherman’s Club Inc., Canberra.

Williams, J, Read, C, Norton, A, Dovers, S, Burgman, M, Proctor, W and Anderson, H 2001, Biodiversity, Australia State of the Environment Report 2001 (Theme Report), CSIRO Publishing on behalf of the Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra.

Other information

Fishing regulations

Details of ACT fishing regulations are contained in the brochure Recreational Fishing in the ACT and at: < http://www.environment.act.gov.au/airandwater/recreationalfishingintheact1.html >.

Kangaroo culling code of practice

Code of Practice – The humane destruction of kangaroos in the ACT, available at: < http://www.environment.act.gov.au/Files/kangaro ocontrolcop.doc >

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