Torres Strait fishery 100% owned by traditional owners

Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people have achieved 100% ownership of the commercial Bêche-de-mer Fishery in the Torres Strait, with the purchase of the last non Indigenous commercial fishing licence.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck have recognised the significance of this purchase by the Torres Strait Regional Authority.

“Last year the Protected Zone Joint Authority supported the aspirations of 100% ownership of Torres Strait commercial fisheries by Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people,” Senator Colbeck said.

“The Australian Government is committed to improving the circumstances for Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people and supports the transition of this fishery to traditional ownership.

“This is now the second commercial fishery in the Torres Strait to be completely owned by the traditional owners and is an important step forward to achieve a commercially viable fishing industry for Torres Strait communities.”

Commercial and traditional fishing in the Australian area of the Torres Strait is managed by the Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA). Members of the PZJA are the Commonwealth Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture (as Chair), the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and the Chair of the Torres Strait Regional Authority.

Fishing for Bêche-de-mer is conducted mainly by diving from dinghies crewed by two to three fishers or by hand collection along reefs at low tide. It is then dried and shipped to markets mainly in Asia.

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