IOT communities contribute to sustainable future for unique fisheries

Thank you to the communities of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) and Christmas Island (CI) for your strong engagement during the recent community consultations on proposed new fishing rules for the islands.

During my visit to CKI in late September, I heard the communities’ concerns about fisheries, and asked the Administrator of CI and CKI, Mrs Natasha Griggs, and Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, Territories Division Executive Director, Alex Foulds, to undertake an additional round of community consultation across the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT).

Under our arrangement with the Western Australian (WA) State Government to provide state-type services, and the application of relevant WA legislation, WA fishing rules are already in place in the IOT. However, these rules are not specifically designed for the unique community values, cultural needs and environments of the IOT.

Supported by staff from the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Fisheries Management Division, the team was on CKI and CI in November, meeting with a range of interested stakeholders.

Across the week, the team met with in excess of 150 people across a range of forums including individual meetings and open community sessions.

A wide range of comments – positive and negative – were received on issues including the methodology behind proposed changes, the need for island-specific fishing rules, bag limits, export rules, and the status of protected species. The further feedback gathered from the community is now being considered.

I also welcome the CKI community’s initiative to establish a fisheries Community Reference Group to represent the range of fishing types and interest groups. This Group will provide a practical and local avenue for engagement and advocacy going forward. To those who put your hand up – thank you.

A summary report of the feedback received will soon be publicly available on the Department’s website, and there will be a further opportunity for community consultation on any proposed changes to the approach.

New rules for CI and CKI seek to recognise the unique cultural needs of the island communities, while also ensuring sufficient protection for fish stocks to remain sustainable for current and future generations.

Both communities have called for the maintenance of a sustainable fishing resource to achieve their strategic vision by 2030.

Thank you for continuing to work with us to ensure the rules are practical and take into consideration the needs of your community as well as the local environment.

I am committed to continuing to work with you and to keeping you well informed as this work progresses.