Communiqué – Protected Zone Joint Authority Meeting 25

The Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) held its 25th meeting on Friday, 29 April 2016. The meeting was attended by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston, Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Leanne Donaldson and Chair of the Torres Strait Regional Authority Mr Joseph Elu AO (via teleconference). The PZJA is responsible for the management of commercial and traditional fishing in the Australian area of the Torres Strait Protected Zone.

Tropical Rock Lobster Management Plan

At the meeting the PZJA agreed to make available a draft Tropical Rock Lobster Management Plan for public comment for three months, noting the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) will seek additional elements in the plan, these include:

a) introducing an economic development contribution from the holders of transferable quota;
b) the Traditional Inhabitant sector (TIB) to be given first right of refusal in sale of TVH licences; and
c) transfers only to be made between existing licence holders in pursuit of 100 per cent ownership by traditional owners.

The draft management plan sets out a quota management system for the Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery.
The PZJA sees the release of the draft plan as a positive step towards ensuring the sustainability of the fishery in the long-term by capping catches and establishing a tool for increasing Traditional Inhabitant share of the resource. A quota management system will provide an opportunity for the Traditional Inhabitant sector to generate revenue through quota leasing.

The PZJA continued to support the development of quota allocation approaches for the Traditional Inhabitant sector and maintained their decision that in the first instance, the catch allocation to Traditional Inhabitants would be at a sectoral level (in a single pool).

The draft Plan will be available through the PZJA website when it is released. Stakeholders will also be invited to attend information meetings to be held across the Torres Strait. Meeting dates and times will be advertised as soon as arrangments are finalised. Stakeholders will be able to submit their comments on the draft plan to AFMA at PO Box 376, Thursday Island, QLD 4875.

Other outcomes from the meeting included agreement to grant a scientific permit to CSIRO to conduct the tropical rock lobster annual survey.

Members look forward to holding the next meeting and stakeholder forum on Thursday Island later this year.

For further information on the PZJA visit pzja.gov.au or call 02 6225 5358

ENDS

Media contacts:
Minister Ruston’s office: Ashton Hurn 0476 849 100
Minister Donaldson’s office: Adrian Taylor 07 3719 7560
TSRA: Bruce Nelson 0423 403 449