IOT fishing rules available for information

Thank you to everybody who has contributed to the development of new fishing rules for the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT). 

It is critical that the fishing rules provide sustainable local fisheries for current and future generations, while also recognising the unique cultural needs of your island communities. 

The revised rules are now available here for Cocos (Keeling) Islands (https://www.regional.gov.au/territories/Cocos_Keeling/fishing-rules/) and here for Christmas Island (https://www.regional.gov.au/territories/Christmas/fishing-rules/) and you can ask your questions or give feedback for the next two weeks. 

The wide range of community feedback has resulted in the following changes:
•    The Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) Cocos Malay community will be exempt from recreational bag limits for cultural or religious events.
•    Designated Cocos Malay artisan fishers can sell small quantities of recreationally caught fish for community consumption.
•    CKI fishers will be allowed to take a small amount (two per day) of Passionfruit Coral Trout.
•    Bag limit of 40 gong gong, per person per day (bag limit will not apply for cultural or religious events) – with further review in two years’ time.

It is important to note the proposed new bag limit of 40 gong gong is an increase on the existing bag limit of 10 which applies in Western Australia (WA). 

Based on scientific research, existing bag limits and the proposed cultural exemptions, the mixed pelagic bag limit will be four per person per day. It is a higher bag limit than allowed in WA (which is three).

The responsible approach taken by the community in recent years to fishing gong gong is making a difference and continuing in this way will be critical for the future stock levels of gong gong. Under the new rules, fishers will also be asked to record their catches in the future to contribute to important research and sustainable fishery.

The new rules would be reviewed in 2023. Over the next two years, further research of the local fisheries stock will be undertaken. This will include community input through citizen science.

I encourage you to get involved in the research, in collaboration with the Australian Government and Fisheries WA so together we can achieve sustainable fishing. You will be able to do this through Community Reference Groups (CRG). More information about these will be provided soon.

As you may be aware, the Australian Government is examining the potential for expanding research and education opportunities in the IOT. A Working Group has been established to develop a Research Prospectus for the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) and inform a business case for an IOT Research Centre. One objective of this work is to provide more local jobs and support the economy. 

This project will also provide opportunities to expand our knowledge of IOT fisheries.

Thank you to everybody who has contributed to the development of new fishing rules. During the most recent round of public consultation, feedback was received from more than 150 residents. I am committed to continuing to work with you and to keeping you well informed as this work progresses.

Australian Government officials will be on CKI and CI to answer questions and provide advice and clarification around the new fishing rules, and I encourage community members to reach out to your local officials if you have any questions or wish to discuss. 

Further detail is available here:

https://www.regional.gov.au/territories/Cocos_Keeling/fishing-rules/
https://www.regional.gov.au/territories/Christmas/fishing-rules/