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.