Outcomes of the 23rd meeting of the PZJA

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Protected Zone Joint Authority Communiqué
Meeting 23, Thursday Island, 8 and 9 April
The 23rd meeting of the Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) was held on Thursday
Island over 8-9 April 2014 to discuss the management of fisheries resources in the
Torres Strait.
Prior to the meeting, the Chair of the PZJA, Senator Richard Colbeck, visited the
communities on Boigu Island and Erub Island, meeting with local fishers, Indigenous
rangers, Councillors and Department of Agriculture staff. The visit highlighted the
unique nature of the island environment and challenges faced by communities in the
Torres Strait.
On 8 April the PZJA members, Senator Colbeck, Torres Strait Regional Authority
Chairman, Mr Joseph Elu, the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and
Forestry, Dr John McVeigh and observer, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator
Nigel Scullion, held a stakeholder meeting.
It was Chaired by the TSRA Fisheries Portfolio Member, Mr Kenny Bedford, and
provided an opportunity for stakeholders to ask questions of the PZJA and Minister
Scullion.
The stakeholder meeting focused on the Native Title implications of the recent sea
claim decision; the 100 per cent ownership aspirations of Torres Strait Islanders and
Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait and traditional fishing rights.
The meeting also heard a presentation from Mr Peter Douglas and Mr Craig Lawson
of the Te Wai Maori Trust, a trust that has been established in New Zealand to look
after Maori fishing interests. The presentation was well received and covered the
overarching history and management of the Maori trust and highlighted the
importance of focusing discussions on the current situation, future aspirations and
means to get from one to the other.
The official PZJA meeting was held on the morning of 9 April. Observers to the
meeting included Minister Scullion and delegates from Papua New Guinea. Mr
Douglas and Mr Lawson also gave a presentation to the PZJA with a greater focus on
the governance of the Maori trust.
Ownership and Native Title were at the fore of discussions, with the PZJA
recognising and supporting the 100 per cent ownership aspirations and a commitment
to working with all stakeholders to develop a pathway towards this while also
recognising the rights of non-traditional fishers. The PZJA agreed that the TSRA
would lead consultation with communities on a draft roadmap towards achieving 100
per cent ownership of Torres Strait commercial fisheries.
The PZJA also agreed to initiate consultation on a draft Tropical Rock Lobster (TRL)
Management Plan, including its objectives to protect traditional custom and
livelihoods and promote regional economic development while ensuring that this
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Protected Zone Joint Authority Communiqué
Meeting 23, Thursday Island, 8 and 9 April
important species continues to be sustainably harvested. Other matters relating to the
TRL Fishery were also progressed, including the reintroduction of moon tide closures
for the 2014 fishing season and no restriction on Traditional Inhabitant tender
numbers. The Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
(QDAFF) will progress these decisions in the coming months.
Members acknowledged the importance of holding the PZJA meetings in the Torres
Strait, noting the invaluable opportunity to engage with local fishers and other
stakeholders. Members agreed that holding regular meetings was important, and
committed to hold a minimum of two meetings every three years. Members agreed
this would make it easier for the Torres Strait community to inform PZJA decision
making and provide for improved communication and engagement with stakeholders.
Members also took the opportunity to progress a number of items in relation to
administrative matters of the PZJA, including the process for publication of annual
reports and policy guidelines for prawn fishers.
Over the next six to twelve months, the PZJA agencies will focus on:
 Consulting on the draft roadmap to 100 per cent ownership;
 Consulting on a draft TRL Management Plan;
 Reviewing the administrative structure of the PZJA, including investigation of
a ‘one-stop-shop’ for day to day fisheries management functions;
 Finalising and publishing a series of annual reports;
 Reviewing the boat size and replacement policies;
 Reviewing licence fees associated with Traditional Inhabitant boat licences;
 Requesting assistance from Minister Scullion to investigate possible access to
financial support from Indigenous Business Australia and the Indigenous Land
Fund in pursuit of ownership aspirations; and
 Investigating linkages between the Fisheries Research and Development
Corporation Indigenous Reference Group and the PZJA Scientific Advisory
Committee.
For further information on the PZJA please visit www.pzja.gov.au or contact the
PZJA Secretariat, Miss Katie Scutt, on 02 6225 5520 or [email protected]
For any licensing enquiries please contact QDAFF on 07 3087 8071. For any
enquiries about the PZJA draft roadmap, please contact TSRA on 07 4069 0700.
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