This section outlines the administration of applications to translocate live aquatic organisms into and within Victoria including:
- the responsibilities of parties involved in the application and evaluation process
- the timeframes for provision of advice
- the supporting documentation
- the translocation protocols
- the review of the Guidelines.
The administrative principles that support the application of these guidelines have been included as Appendix C.
The translocation applicant
The translocation applicant is responsible for preparing and submitting a completed application to translocate live aquatic organisms into or within Victoria.
If further information is required (for example, a risk assessment), it is the responsibility of the translocation applicant to provide this information.
The VFA Administration Officer has the primary responsibility for managing the administration of translocation applications.
Specifically, the Administration Officer provides:
- administrative support to the Translocation Evaluation Panel (TEP)
- advice to the TEP as to whether a translocation is compliant with an approved translocation protocol, the criteria for a low risk translocation or a previously approved translocation
- advice to applicants as to the completeness of an application.
Translocation Evaluation Panel
The TEP is established under the Guidelines by the Secretary, VFA and reports through VFA to the CEO, VFA or delegate.
The role of the TEP is to provide advice to the CEO on the management of risks associated with proposed translocations and to the Administration Officer on administrative assessments. Specifically, the TEP will:
- provide advice to the CEO, Victorian Fisheries Authority on proposed translocations not previously approved;
- provide advice to the CEO, Victorian Fisheries Authority on each translocation protocol during its development; and
- provide advice to the CEO, Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) if it disagrees with an administrative assessment by the VFA that a translocation application complies with an approved translocation protocol or is a low-risk translocation.
A copy of the Terms of Reference for the TEP is included in Appendix A.
Members of the TEP are appointed by the CEO, VFA or delegate, to provide expert advice about the translocation of live aquatic organisms. Membership will include:
- up to four non-VFA or government persons with combined experience in aquaculture, recreational fishing, commercial fishing, fish habitat and aquatic species conservation; and
- up to five representatives from VFA or DELWP with combined expertise in aquaculture, fish stocking, fish habitat, aquatic animal diseases and disease management, aquatic ecosystem management and aquatic species conservation.
The TEP chair is selected from the non-VFA members. The CEO of VFA appoints the chair.
Time frames for provision of advice on translocations
Where VFA assesses a translocation application as compliant with an approved translocation protocol or is a low-risk translocation, the TEP must provide advice to the CEO, VFA, or delegate within five working days of it receiving the application if it disagrees with that assessment.
All other advice must be provided by the TEP within twenty working days of receiving the request.
Note: the TEP timeframes shown above do not include time required for administrative processes of VFA.
Proponents may be required to obtain specified documents prior to a translocation event occurring. Documentation may include:
- certificates of animal health
- declarations of disease-free status from suppliers of stock
- declarations from competent veterinary authorities
- other relevant documents.
Unless otherwise approved by the CEO VFA, or delegate, these documents are valid for a maximum period of two weeks from the date of issue.
Those authorised to undertake translocations must keep these documents in a safe place and in good order for a period of three years after the date of issue and make these documents available to VFA upon request.
Legally acceptable translocations
Translocation proposals will be assessed by VFA for consistency with the Actand these Guidelines, and the completeness of the translocation application.
Applicants may be required to provide further information in support of their translocation application. In such cases, all timeframes are reset.
Translocation proposals must comply with all relevant Victorian and Commonwealth legislation.
Development of translocation protocols
Where translocation events have similar characteristics in terms of species, associated media, and source and destination type, and will be repeated regularly, it is preferred that an approved translocation protocol be developed.
An approved translocation protocol will allow translocation applications that comply with the protocol to be considered without the requirement for a case-by-case risk assessment.
Proponents who plan to undertake a translocation conforming to an approved protocol must demonstrate compliance with that protocol by applying for the authority to translocate aquatic organisms. If authorisation is granted, it will provide for an appropriate level of ongoing compliance monitoring.
The VFA in consultation with relevant stakeholders, will identify the need for protocols and lead their development. Following advice from the TEP, and approval by the CEO, VFA, or delegate, draft translocation protocols are referred to relevant stakeholders for comment.
To date, the following translocation protocols have been approved:
- Protocols for the Translocation of Fish in Victorian Inland Public Waters (Department of Primary Industries 2005)
- Victorian Protocol for the Translocation of Blue Mussels (Department of Primary Industries 2006)
- Victorian Protocol for the Translocation of Eels (Department of Primary Industries 2006a)
- Victorian Abalone Aquaculture Translocation Protocol (Victorian Fisheries Authority 2018)
- Victorian Protocol for the Translocation of Aquatic Animals to Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (Department of Primary Industries 2008).
All translocation protocols are available on the VFA website (https://vfa.vic.gov.au/operational-policy/moving-and-stocking-live-aquatic-organisms).
Where there is a need to manage the translocation risks of a specific class of translocation, Victorian Fisheries Authority may prepare translocation protocols.
Industry organisations, companies or individuals can prepare translocation protocols. Such translocation protocols will be referred to the TEP and require approval by the VFA Manager Aquaculture, VFA Fisheries Management and Science Director or VFA Chief Executive Officer.
In some cases, a proposed translocation of live aquatic organisms may represent minimal environmental risk and is not compliant with an approved translocation protocol.
To be considered a low-risk translocation, a proposed translocation must be consistent with all of the following principles as well as the criteria listed below.
The principles that characterise a low-risk translocation are:
- the risk of release of diseases or parasites is considered minimal
- the risk of escape of translocated stock is considered minimal
- the cost of preparing a risk assessment far outweighs the benefits of the risk assessment process.
To be considered a low-risk translocation, a proposed translocation must also be assessed as meeting the following criteria:
- the receiving facility is appropriately authorised as a biosecure facility under State or Commonwealth legislation; or
- there is no approved translocation protocol that is relevant to the proposed translocation; and
- the proposed translocation is not for commercial purposes; and
- it does not involve a species declared as noxious or as protected aquatic biota under the Act; and
- the waters to be stocked is a secure facility contained wholly indoors; and
- the total volume of water into which the live aquatic organisms will be stocked is less than 5000 litres.
Review of the Guidelines
These Guidelines and their application will be reviewed by VFA in consultation with the TEP at any time as directed by the CEO, VFA, or delegate. These Guidelines should be reviewed within ten years to assess their ongoing efficiency and effectiveness in reducing risks associated with translocations.