30 July 2012
Villagers from Papua New Guinea standing on two boats celebrating the new labels which will allow Australian authorities to easily identify boats from treaty villages

Villagers from traditional fishing communities in Papua New Guinea celebrate the new labels which will allow Australian authorities to easily identify boats from treaty villages.

A new program suggested by Papua New Guinean traditional fishers to place identification labels on their fishing boats will provide great benefits for traditional fishers and Australia’s border protection authorities alike.

Following the proposal from PNG traditional fishers, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority developed the vessel identification system in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Torres Strait Treaty Joint Advisory Council.

Australian authorities travelled to the traditional fishing villages of Parama, Kadawa and Katatai in PNG last week to put the first labels on boats.

The labels allow Australia’s border protection authorities to distinguish between PNG vessels from the 13 Torres Strait Treaty villages that can lawfully operate in Australian waters and those from non-treaty villages, or other places, who cannot.

The system will also assist PNG traditional inhabitants who have expressed concern for many years that they are being mistaken for those “outsiders” who fish illegally.

Villagers are excited about the labelling system, applauding when the first new labels were fixed in place. Other PNG treaty villages are enquiring about the program, expressing an eagerness to participate.

It is hoped by the end of 2012 all 13 treaty villages will be displaying the identification labels on their vessels.

AFMA General Manager of Fisheries Operations Peter Venslovas said AFMA was pleased to take up the PNG traditional fishers’ proposal because it will greatly assist fisheries compliance activities in the Torres Strait.

Contact: Sophie Dening, AFMA Communications 02 6225 5541 or 0447 942 840 or sophie.dening@afma.gov.au.