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Annex 1: Overview of the legislative framework and roles and responsibilities for Wildlife protection

There is a range of legislation and regulatory instruments that make up the regulatory framework that protects and regulates activities concerning wildlife. There are also regulatory frameworks which relate to environment protection or management, land use planning and management, primary production, and animal welfare that operate in parallel.

The Conservation Regulator notes these other regulatory frameworks and will seek to collaborate with the responsible regulators to seek integrated regulatory outcomes for wildlife.

Legislative framework for the protection, conservation and activities concerning wildlife

There are several pieces of legislation that apply to the protection, conservation and activities concerning wildlife. The Conservation Regulator has regulatory responsibility for the following acts, unless noted.

Legislation Key provisions

Wildlife Act 1975

The Wildlife Act 1975 seeks to ensure:

  • The protection and conservation of wildlife
  • The prevention of taxa of wildlife from becoming extinct
  • The sustainable use of and access to wildlife

The Act prohibits and regulates the conduct for persons involved with activities concerning or related to wildlife and provides a framework for regulating activities concerning wildlife.

The Act includes a framework for people wishing to control, possess, display, breed, trade in or interact with wildlife and provides a framework for the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife which is undertaken by authorised volunteers, wildlife shelters and foster carers.

Wildlife Regulations 2013

These regulations provide for the management, conservation and humane use of wildlife, and establish provisions for licensing, fees and offences, and exemptions under the Wildlife Act 1975. It also includes an offence for destruction of wildlife habitat.

Wildlife (Marine Mammal) Regulations 2019

This Act provides for the protection and governs activities including interaction with marine mammals and the setting of standards for watching marine mammals in the wild (viewing from land, sea and air).

National Parks Act 1975

National Parks Act 1975 allows for the preservation and protection of the natural environment through land classification. This allows the restriction of activities that may be harmful to the environment, to wildlife, and to wildlife habitat. This legislation, and it’s attached regulations, are primarily administered by Parks Victoria and other relevant land managers.

Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988

The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act) is the key piece of Victorian legislation for the conservation of threatened species and communities and for the management of potentially threatening processes.

The Act’s objectives are to protect, conserve, restore and enhance biodiversity.

The Act also provides a legislative basis for listing threatened species and communities.

The Secretary of DELWP can determine critical habitat for threatened species and improve their protection.

The FFG Act has been amended to provide a modern and strengthened framework for the protection of Victoria’s biodiversity. The Flora and Fauna Amendment Act 2019 came into effect on 1 June 2020 and provides implementation guidelines for the FFG Act, requires consideration of biodiversity across government, and modernises the enforcement framework of the FFG Act.

(Commonwealth) Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999

The Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) aims to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places – defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance.

This Act includes provisions to regulate national and international trade in wildlife and is administered by the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy.

Wildlife (State Game Reserves) Regulations 2014

The Wildlife (State Game Reserves) Regulations 2014 provide for the management of State Game Reserves established under the Wildlife Act 1975. These regulations are administered by DELWP and Parks Victoria.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA Act) aims to prevent cruelty to animals including to wildlife, animals in the wild, those held under a wildlife licence, research permit or other authorised activity.

This Act, except Part 3 (scientific procedures), does not apply to anything done in accordance with the Wildlife Act 1975. Accordingly, a breach of a condition of an authorisation issued under the Wildlife Act could also result in contravention of the POCTA Act. The Act has specific enforcement and regulatory powers, including Codes of Practice of the care of animals, some of which are specified as mandatory requirements for wildlife licence holders by the Wildlife Regulations 2013.

While primary responsibility for this legislation sits with the Minister for Agriculture and the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, some of the Conservation Regulator’s Officers are authorised under the Act and may investigate allegations of cruelty in relation to wildlife and will investigate where the Conservation Regulator has provided a permission relating to wildlife.

Other regulatory officers authorised under this legislation include Agriculture Victoria, Victoria Police, the RSPCA and Local Councils.

Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012

The Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 provide for the effective management of game species and game hunting, granting and administering game licences, open and close of seasons and manage bag limits. It also regulates methods of hunting, identification, possession and use of game and specified hunting areas. These regulations are administered by the Game Management Authority.

Wildlife (Tour Operator Licence Fee) Regulations 2011

These regulations provide for fees to be collected for State Wildlife Reserve tour operator licences, granted under the Wildlife Act 1975. The regulations also provide for the reduction, waiver or refund of tour operator licence fees.