Communiqué – Protected Zone Joint Authority

27 November 2018

Meeting 28, teleconference, 26 November 2018, Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery

The Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) held its 28th meeting on Monday 26 November 2018. The meeting was chaired by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Richard Colbeck. The other two members of the PZJA, the Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, and the Chair of the Torres Strait Regional Authority, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen, participated via teleconference. The PZJA is responsible for the management of commercial fishing in the Australian area of the Torres Strait Protected Zone.

The PZJA met to decide whether or not to determine the Torres Strait Fisheries (Quotas for Tropical Rock Lobster (Kaiar)) Management Plan 2018 and whether or not to make amendments to the Torres Strait Fisheries (Tropical Rock Lobster) Management Instrument 2018.  Prior to making a decision the PZJA considered the outcome of consultation on the draft management plan and instrument and how matters raised in submissions had been handled in preparing final drafts of the plan and instrument. Having considered these and related matters, the PZJA decided to both determine the plan and to amend the instrument. These decisions mean that a quota management system for the Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster (TRL) Fishery will, subject to the outcomes of any successful appeals, be operational in time for the 2019-20 fishing season. 

For the 2018-19 fishing season (starting 1 December 2018) separate Traditional and non-traditional shares of the total allowable catch (TAC) will be implemented. The instrument will ensure Traditional Inhabitant Boat (TIB) fishers are allocated 66.17 per cent of the TAC and 33.83 per cent will be allocated to the Transferrable Vessel Holder (TVH) licence holders, according to the October 2007 provisional allocation notices. Once a TVH fisher has exhausted their individual allocation (which could include quota leased from other TVH licence holders), they will have to stop fishing. Equally, once the TIB sector has taken its share of the TAC, TIB fishers will also have to stop fishing.

The PZJA has agreed to an interim TAC of 200 tonnes from 1 December 2018, which will allow fishers to head out and free dive and lamp fish from this weekend, and hookah fishing can commence on 1 February 2019. The annual stock assessment undertaken by CSIRO has been completed and the PZJA expects to receive advice from the TRL Resource Assessment and Working Groups early next year, in order to determine a final TAC by late March 2019.

The PZJA recognises that the development of the TRL Fishery quota management plan has been a long process and commends stakeholders for providing advice on its development over time. The PZJA also recognizes that some stakeholders may be uncertain about what the new arrangements mean for them and their communities. AFMA will be writing to all licence holders with further information and AFMA staff are available to speak directly with stakeholders.

The PZJA recognises and fully supports the aspirations of Traditional inhabitants to increase their share of TRL Fishery quota to 100 per cent and the Management Plan will pave the way.

For further information on the PZJA visit pzja.gov.au or call 07 4069 1990.

ENDS

Download a copy of the Letter sent to Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery Licence Holders on 28 November 2018.