The Torres Strait Treaty between Australia and Papua New Guinea, ratified in 1985, recognised customary, and limited commercial, Indigenous rights in marine resources in Torres Strait. Since the High Court's Mabo vs Queensland decision in June 1992, and the establishment of the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), effectively from July 1994, the issue of rights in marine resources has become central to the development of a sustainable regional economic base for Indigenous people in Torres Strait. This paper describes the regulatory framework for managing marine resources in Torres Strait, the current value of the commercial fishing sector, and the potential for expansion of the industry. Attention is then focused on current Islander participation in the industry, and especially on barriers and incentives affecting participation. Options for creating well-defined Islander property rights in commercial fisheries are examined, and the policy implications of these options are discussed. Finally, the importance of further research is put in the context of the TSRA's responsibility for a Torres Strait Development Plan and the goals of increased Indigenous participation in commercial fisheries and greater economic self-sufficiency for the region.
ISBN: 0 7315 1747 4