Legislative development of the precautionary principle: the EPBC Amendment (Declared Commercial Fishing Activities) Act 2012 and forthcoming changes to the Fisheries Management Act 1991
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A rushed temporary amendment to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) was made in September 2012 to enable the Environment Minister to impose a precautionary fishing ban on the "super trawler" FV Abel Tasman, the world's second-largest fishing vessel. At the same time, the federal government initiated the first large-scale review of federal fisheries legislation in more than 20 years. It is anticipated that the review will lead to changes to the Fisheries Management Act 1991 (Cth) (PM Act) that will reduce the extent to which the EPBC Act encroaches into the realm of fisheries management and will further empower the Fisheries Minister to make decisions based on the precautionary principle. The review provides a timely opportunity to develop a more practical and theoretically sound legislative incorporation of the precautionary principle.