The Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA), responsible for the management of commercial and traditional fishing in the Australian area of the Torres Strait, will meet on Wednesday 5 August on Thursday Island.
The PZJA will also hold a stakeholder forum before the PZJA meeting, meeting with traditional owners, Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers to ensure that their views are heard and can be considered during the decision making process.
The PZJA consists of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck; Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne MP; and chair of the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), Joseph Elu AO. Representatives from the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority will also attend the PZJA as observers.
Senator Colbeck said good management of the region’s fisheries contributed to employment and economic development and close cooperation between agencies helped to safeguard the productive future of the Torres Strait.
“I am pleased to be back in the Torres Strait to meet with people who live and work in this region and to tackle some of the challenges facing fisheries here,” Senator Colbeck said.
“The meeting on Thursday Island will discuss the management of fisheries resources in the region and shows our continued commitment to engagement with Indigenous communities.
“Australia shares a border in this region with Papua New Guinea. Both countries acknowledge the ongoing importance of the traditional inhabitants of the Torres Strait and coastal Papua New Guinea adjacent to the Torres Strait, and of protecting the unique environment in the region.
“The Torres Strait is one of the most pristine environments in the world – with significant tropical marine ecosystems and species.
“Fishing is a vital part of the Torres Strait community. It is important that the fisheries be well managed to protect them for future generations and to protect the marine environment here.
“That is why I am keen to work with the other members of the PZJA to deliver on the outcomes of the meeting.”
Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne, said he looks forward to attending his first PZJA meeting.
“I am interested to hear the views of the local people during my visit,” Minister Byrne said.
“Management of fisheries in the Torres Strait is particularly complex and we need to ensure we are fully aware of the communities views as part of this process.”
TSRA Chairman, Mr Joseph Elu, said the PZJA would continue recognising and supporting the aspirations of 100 per cent ownership of Torres Strait fisheries by Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal traditional owners, while also acknowledging the rights of existing non-traditional inhabitant fishers in the region.
“The PZJA meeting is an integral part of the decision making process about how traditional and commercial fisheries in the Torres Strait are best managed,” Mr Elu said.
“Bringing stakeholders together at meetings like this ensures the best outcomes for our fisheries industry, and more importantly to decide how to achieve those outcomes.”
The development of a management plan for the Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery, which is consistent with 100 per cent ownership aspirations, will be a key focus of discussion at the meeting and importantly the PZJA will consider community feedback to date on developing a management plan.
For more information see pzja.gov.au
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck