Catch Sharing with Papua New Guinea

The Torres Strait Treaty was ratified in 1985, between Australia and PNG. The principle purpose of the Treaty is to acknowledge and protect the traditional way of life and livelihood of traditional inhabitants allowing for their traditional fishing and free movement between the two countries. In addition, the Treaty was established to enable orderly development of commercial fishing and requires the Governments of both countries to protect and preserve the marine environment and indigenous fauna and flora of the area.

The Treaty sets out a framework to guide both countries in providing for the management, conservation and sharing of fisheries resources. Since ratification, Australia has entered into formal agreements with PNG to cooperatively manage six fisheries; Prawn, Tropical Rock Lobster, Spanish Mackerel, Pearl Shell, Turtle and Dugong. These fisheries are referred to as Article 22 fisheries, referring to the article in the Treaty which sets out such agreements. Agreed shares for individual fisheries set out in Article 23 in the Australian Jurisdiction of the TSPZ are:

Tropical Rock Lobster:

  • Australia 75%
  • PNG 25%

Spanish Mackerel:

  • Australia 60%
  • PNG 40%

Prawn and Pearl Shell:

  • Australia 75%
  • PNG 25%

Australia and PNG meet annually to discuss and agree on catch sharing arrangements based on the agreed shares set out in Article 23 as well as historic catch by both countries.

Non-Article 22 Fisheries being Finfish, Sea Cucumber, Trochus and Crab have no formal arrangements made and there are no catch sharing provisions in place. However, either country could nominate one of these fisheries to also be managed cooperatively under the arrangements outlined in Article 22 of the Treaty.