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New management imminent for fishing in Torres Strait

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PI 85/19 14 February 1985


New Management Imminent for Fishing in Torres Strait

The Minister for Primary industry, Mr John Kerin, said today that commencement tomorrow of the Torres Strait Treaty creates a completely new basis for management of fisheries in the Torres Strait Protected Zone.

Mr Kerin said that a Joint Authority had been establsihed to manage, under Federal law, a number of fisheries in the Australian part of the Protected Zone. The area of Australian jurisdiction lies south of the fisheries and seabed

jurisdiction lines established by the Treaty.

Mr Kerin said that the Joint Authority, comprising himself and the Queensland Minister for Primary Industries, Mr Neil Turner, would meet in Port Moresby tomorrow while both Ministers will be in Papua New Guinea for the Treaty ratification

ceremony, to finalize joint management and conservation of the rock lobster, prawn, Spanish mackerel, dugong, turtle and pearl shell fisheries.

The Joint Authority will also manage traditional fishing in the Zone and the" barramundi fishery in Australian waters near the Papua New Guinea coast.

Mr Kerin said that Queensland would manage, under Queensland law, all the fisheries in the Australian part of the Protected Zone which the Joint Authority did not manage.

Mr Kerin said that the Torres Strait Fisheries Act would take effect from tomorrow, 15 February 1985. Queensland legislation for the same purpose comes into force on that day also. .

From now on it will be necessary for master fishermen and boats in the Australian part of the Protected Zone to have separate licences issued by the Joint Authority for operations in Joint Authority commercial fisheries or by the Queensland Government under that State's laws for operations in all other

commercial fisheries.

The Minister said that application forms for Joint Authority licences are now available from the Queensland Fish Management Authority (Brisbane), the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol offices in Cairns and Thursday Island and the Northern Fisheries Unit of the Australian Fisheries Service,

Department of Primary Industry, in Cairns.

Applications for Queensland licences are available from the Queensland Fish Management Authority (QFMA). All applications, including those for Joint Authority licences, should be lodged with the QFMA in the first instance.

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• * There was a requirement in the Commonwealth Torres Strait Fisheries Act for boats processing or carrying fish caught by other boats to be licenced for those activities and application for such licences should be made in the same way.

joint Authority licences would be issued for specified fisheries under Commonwealth law only and would be the only " licences valid for the specified fishery seaward from low water mark in the area of Australian jurisdiction in the Protected

Zone, Mr Kerin said.

It will be necessary for Australian fishermen who wish to operate in jointly-managed fisheries in the Papua New Guinea area of the zone to apply to the Australian Fisheries Service in the Department of Primary industry, Canberra, to determine whether their licences would be considered for nomination for

endorsement by the Papua new Guinea Government.

Mr Kerin said he would suggest to the Queensland Minister for Primary Industries that a four week period of grace be allowed before the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol began enforcing the licencing requirements.

Mr Kerin said that Commonwealth licences would also authorise fishing in the commercial fisheries managed by the Joint Authority in areas proclaimed for particular fisheries outside but near th^ Protected Zone.

In these areas, as well as in the Protected Zone, the Commonwealth's Fisheries Act and Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act would no longer apply and licences under those Acts would not be valid for those fisheries.

Mr Kerin invited fishermen seeking further information about the new arrangements to write to the Australian Fisheries Service of the Department of Primary Industry in Canberra, or the Queensland Fish Management Authority in Brisbane. He pointed out

that the Australian Fisheries Service was preparing information material to be distributed in the Protected Zone and north Queensland fishing ports to assist traditional inhabitants and people in the fishing industry to understand the new arrangements.

Contact: Walter Pearson (062) 726649