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Launch of sustainable fishing project in Torres Strait

A long-awaited project that aims to boost Torres Strait Islander participation in the local fishing industry and increase economic benefit to communities in the region has launched – Wapil 2.

Wapil 2 and its objectives have been developed following extensive consultation with the local community and fishing industry.

The 3-year project, led by the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), aims to facilitate growth through enhanced fishing participation and viable infrastructure partnerships for seafood handling, improved supply chains and marketing.

Communities across the region, including all 17 inhabited islands and the communities of Bamaga and Seisia in the Northern Peninsula Area, are encouraged to participate.

TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM said it was important to have the right foundations in place to ensure the project succeeds.

“We know that appropriate infrastructure, like wharves and storage facilities and equipment like the right boats and support services are important but so are training, knowledge and safety for divers and fishers,” Mr Stephen said.

“What we are delivering here is the whole package to ensure we create a sustainable, economically viable and culturally sensitive fishing industry for our people to manage and prosper. It’s also an integrated system from the sea to the factory and on to domestic and overseas markets.”

The six core themes of Wapil 2 are enhancing fishing participation, vessels and equipment, boat and diving safety and compliance, business development support, finance and insurance for fishing operations and viable infrastructure options.

Mr Stephen said Wapil 2 would not be possible without the support and collaboration of many organisations.

“Our appreciation and thanks go to the National Indigenous Australians Agency for providing additional financial and logistics support,” he said.

“We are also most grateful for the ongoing assistance of Torres Strait Island Regional Council for infrastructure leasing, Queensland TAFE contracted to deliver training through the Torres Strait Maritime Pathways Project, Gur A Baradharaw Kod Sea and Land Council Torres Strait Islander Corporation and Malu Lamar as the Native Title representatives as well as the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Queensland Government for support with compliance and raising safety awareness issues.”

TSRA will also ask local communities to have their say in a survey about current fishing practices, effort, equipment and infrastructure to provide baseline data for the Wapil 2 project.

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