When the management arrangements for Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) fisheries first came into effect in 1985, transferable licences were issued to persons if they could demonstrate the required prior history and commitment to fishing in Torres Strait. Principally, though not exclusively, these licences were issued to people who were not traditional inhabitants.
Traditional inhabitants most frequently undertook commercial fishing under “community licences” in fisheries where a commercial authority was required. Since 1985, new licences have only been issued to traditional inhabitants. In different fisheries a number of provisions have also reduced licence holdings by non-traditional inhabitants over time.
People who are not traditional inhabitants and wish to obtain a licence for a fishery in Torres Strait must buy one of the transferable licences from an existing operator. These licences are subject to strict boat replacement regulations limiting vessel size. Traditional inhabitants can enter any commercial fishery by obtaining a Traditional Inhabitant Boat (TIB) fishing licence. All licences are issued by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority as a delegate of the PZJA.
Management by the Protected Zone Joint Authority
Until 1999, the PZJA managed the following fisheries in accordance with Commonwealth law in the Australian component of the TSPZ:
- traditional fishing
- those fisheries that Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) agreed to jointly manage in the TSPZ, including the prawn, Spanish Mackerel, pearl shell, tropical rock lobster, dugong and turtle fisheries
- the Barramundi fishery
In October 1996 the PZJA agreed that all commercial fishing in the Torres Strait should come under PZJA management. The new arrangements were introduced in April 1999 for the following fisheries:
Recreational fishing, including charter fishing, and marketing are still managed by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Primary Industries.