Project number: 2016-237
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $47,539.00
Principal Investigator: Andrew & Renae Tobin
Organisation: Tobin Fish Tales
Project start/end date: 31 Oct 2016 - 29 Oct 2017


The project has been commissioned by the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA). It recognises the fundamental importance of fisheries related business development for the region to enhance employment and economic development for traditional inhabitants. The project is also consistent with other important legislative and policy objectives including:
• The Torres Strait Fisheries Act, Closing the Gap and Indigenous Advancement Strategies, and Regional Development Plans
• TSRA Fisheries & Economic Development Programs, including the recently developed Finfish Action Plan.

The Torres Strait is a fish rich region and mud crab, jewfish and barramundi are known to occur in the waters of the top western region. Some existing small scale operations are currently operating in the area. Recent community consultation for the TSRA’s Finfish Action Plan also identified local support for more targeted finfish related business development.

The need also extends to ensuring the development and operation of new fisheries is sustainable and appropriate from a biological, ecological, and social/cultural perspective.

Enabling the establishment of viable finfish businesses in this top western area may also balance actual and perceived support of finfish businesses across the broader region (e.g. previous investment has focussed on supporting the established fishery for coral trout and mackerel in the eastern region).

A well designed and executed top western fisheries scoping study can determine if harvests from local fin fish and crab populations, combined with available fishing and business skills and knowledge, infrastructure, supply chain and marketing pathways can combine to support fishing related economic growth for the region.


1. Complete a desktop scoping and current knowledge review of fisheries opportunities for mudcrab, barramundi and jewfish in top western Torres Straits
2. Use field surveys to estimate local stock abundance and model commercial fishing feasibility at appropriate scales
3. Review current infrastructure, and available skills and capabilities to support the identified fishing business opportunities
4. Extend project results among communities and stakeholders and provide hands on business support and mentoring to prospective fishers in selected Torres Strait top western communities

Related research


Developing a Kimberley Aboriginal Mud Crab Fishery

1. Determine the biology and distribution of mud crab species (Scylla serrata and S. olivacea) in King Sound and Cambridge Gulf areas of the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) WA