Torres Strait Finfish Fishery information for the 2022- 23 season

31 August 2022

At its 11 February 2022 meeting the Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) decided that the Total Allowable Catches (TAC) for the Torres Strait Finfish Fishery (TSFF) will be 75 tonnes for Spanish mackerel and 135 tonnes for coral trout. The PZJA decision was in line with advice from the Torres Strait Finfish Resource Assessment Group and Torres Strait Finfish Working Group.

Access to the TSFF is reserved for Traditional Inhabitants (the TIB sector) and fishers that lease sunset licences (the sunset sector) from the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA). Sunset licences may be held by non-traditional inhabitants and allow for a certain amount of catch to be taken.

Each year since 2008-09 the TSRA, on behalf of traditional inhabitants, has leased these sunset licences (temporary transfers), with specified Spanish mackerel and coral trout catch amounts. Since 2017-18 TSRA have also leased catch allowances for other reef-line finfish species. Sunset licences are granted and varied by AFMA, as the PZJA licensing delegate.

For the 2022-23 fishing season, AFMA as PZJA licencing delegate, has approved the TSRA application for three sunset licences to be temporarily transferred (leased) with a total catch allowance across all licences of:

  • 57 tonnes of Spanish mackerel,
  • 35 tonnes of coral trout and
  • 3.5 tonnes of other reef-line finfish species across all licences.

2022-23 fishing season TACs and catch allowance by sector

Species

Agreed TAC

Sunset sector catch share

TIB sector catch share

Spanish mackerel

75

57

18

Coral trout

135

35

100

Other reef-line species*

n/a

3.5

No limit

 

AFMA will provide catch watch reports throughout the season to advise licence holders on reported catches against the TACs which are published on the PZJA website. If required, additional measures will be developed to ensure catches do not exceed the agreed TACs.

Amendment to the permanent closure area

At its meeting on 16 March 2022, the PZJA agreed to amend the Torres Strait Fisheries (Finfish) Management Instrument 2020 (the Management Instrument), which is a legislative instrument under section 16 of the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984 (the Act).

This amendment redefined the permanent closure area (otherwise known as the western line closure) as identified in section 15 of the Management Instrument, to prohibit the taking of finfish by line fishing methods in that area of the finfish fishery commencing south of Latitude 09°34’ 31” S and west of Longitude 142°31'49" E.

In effect, this opened a new area of the Finfish (Reef Line) Fishery north of the southernmost point of Buru Island. The intent of this amendment is to provide an economic opportunity to fishers in Gudamaluilgal (top-western) communities. The opening was supported by FFRAG advice which stated that the risk to sustainability is low.

For more information, read the letter sent to Finfish Fishery licence holders.