Sari-Ella Thaiday, just completing a law degree in Brisbane, has initiated a petition to Australia’s foreign affairs minister asking that the government protect the rights of Torres Strait Islands’ people against any Chinese incursion into Australian waters - KJ
BRISBANE - China has just signed a memorandum of understanding with Papua New Guinea to build a $200 million fishing facility on Daru Island.
It is imperative that Torres Strait Islands’ leaders discuss this issue with Australian foreign affairs minister Marise Payne to review the Torres Strait Treaty, which allows Papua New Guinean nationals to fish in Australian waters.
Daru Island is the closest PNG island to Australia and on the doorstep of the Torres Strait.
Torres Strait Islanders hold grave concerns and are anxious for their jobs, livelihoods, families, communities and culture.
They believe the $200 million Chinese facility will ‘vacuum’ the seafood, destroy their fisheries industry and run dry environmental resources.
“We have to stand up and voice our concerns about it, because it will be on our doorstep,” said Torres Shire mayor Vonda Malone.
“It will affect our communities, our people, our families, our resources.
“We are dealing with a country that does not have the same values as us,” Ms Malone said.
There are concerns as to why China is investing so much money into a fisheries facility located in an area that has few fish.
Many people are not convinced this facility will be used entirely for its said purpose.
How will small fisheries compare to a multi-million dollar facility?
It will not be sustainable, and it is highly likely China will take advantage of the Torres Strait Treaty to fish within Australian waters.
The renegotiation of the treaty must happen now.
The Australian federal government must listen to Torres Strait leaders, giving them authority and providing protection so a Chinese facility cannot gain access to Australian waters.