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Torres Strait fishing partnership receives national recognition

Quinten Hirakawa (TSRA Fisheries Senior Project Officer) and Yen Loban (TSRA Portfolio Member for Fisheries and Board Member for Ngurapai and Muralag).

A Torres Strait fishing workshop has been recognised as a finalist at the National Seafood Industry Awards 2022 in Brisbane.

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) and Fishwell Consulting progressed from state to national finalists in the People and Development category for their fisheries workshops with Traditional Owners from across the region.

The workshops, held on Thursday Island, brought together various island communities and fishing interests – including tropical rock lobster, beche-de-mer, reef line and prawn fishing – to build local capacity, skills and networks in sustainable fisheries management.

TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM congratulated TSRA and Fishwell Consulting.

“This recognition as national finalists reaffirms the importance of working with local people and communities to support sustainable seafood stock and fishing industries in northern Australia waters,” Mr Stephen said.

“We must continue to support our people with the tools to balance the ecology, environment and the economy to best manage Torres Strait fisheries into the future.

“The TSRA is proud to partner with like-minded organisations who share our long-term commitment to develop skills and capacity in our local fishing industry.”

A long-held aspiration of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples is to own 100% of all commercial fisheries in the Torres Strait Protected Zone.

“Our eyes are on this ultimate prize – a sustainable Torres Strait fishing industry owned and operated by Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples,” he said.

Following the workshop’s success, a follow-up session in Cairns (15-16 June 2022) engaged more participants including Torres Strait Islander representatives from the Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) – a dedicated body responsible for managing commercial and traditional fishing in the Australian area of the Torres Strait Protected Zone (TSPZ) and designated adjacent Torres Strait waters.

Run again by Fishwell Consulting, the June workshop funded by TSRA and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and covered topics including:

  • Understanding the language of fisheries science
  • Leadership
  • Fisheries data
  • Harvest strategies
  • Fisheries population dynamics
  • Meeting principles
  • Formal process of PZJA meetings
  • Stock assessment methods.

TSRA Fisheries Portfolio Member and Member for Ngurapai (Horn Island) and Muralag (Prince of Wales Island) Yen Loban said the workshops supported local aspirations to bring science into decision-making.

“Fisheries is a critical industry in the Torres Strait for food, jobs and our economy,” Mr Loban said.

“I would like to thank the TSRA and Board, Fisheries Advisory Committee and Fishwell Consulting for these workshops so we can learn about and apply the science to keep our fish stock plentiful for the future.”

Fishing industry expert and Fishwell Consulting Director Dr Ian Knuckey said connecting scientific and traditional knowledge was key to strong and sustainable fisheries in the region.

“Traditional Owners and local fishers can now better represent their interests in the management of Torres Strait fisheries and make informed decisions using their local intel and traditional knowledge backed by scientific research,” Dr Knuckey said.

Winners were announced on 15 September 2022 as part of the Seafood Direction Conference (13-15 September) at the Sofitel, Brisbane.

The conference is widely regarded as the industry’s premier ideas, innovation and networking event. It provided an exciting platform for national and international speakers to share their expertise around the theme: One Voice, One Future.

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For more information about the conference and awards, visit

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