Two men sitting at a table with maps of the Torres Strait in front of them.

Kapua Gutchen (Erub Elder) and Alifereti Tawake after a marine resource and cognitive mapping session in Erub.

Torres Strait hand collectable fisheries adaptive co-management

Torres Strait Island Communities (Erub and Warraber) will be working with CSIRO to develop an adaptive co-management approach for the harvesting of trochus and beche-de-mer marine resources.

  • 18 December 2009 | Updated 14 October 2011


Many people in the Torres Strait rely on marine fisheries (e.g. bêche-de-mer, trochus, tropical rock lobster, dugong, turtle) to maintain their livelihoods.

These fisheries are currently managed by government agencies, which sometimes strains the relationship between management agencies and communities.

“I will be spending time talking with the community members throughout this project which will be contributing to my PHD studies at James Cook University”
Mr Alifereti Tawake

The Torres Strait is home to trochus and bêche-de-mer species (commonly known as sea cucumbers).

Sea cucumbers are considered a delicacy in South-East Asia and the South-Pacific, with the trochus shell commonly used to make buttons for supply to the fashion industry.

The harvesting of these tropical species is potentially an important income source for Torres Strait Islander communities.


This project aims to test an adaptive co-management framework approach (i.e. adaptively managed by the government and the communities) for trochus and bêche-de-mer in two Torres Strait Island communities.

The project will test the success of co-management in terms of social, economic, cultural and ecological outcomes for Torres Strait Islanders.

This project will help communities develop Harvest Strategy Plans for trochus and bêche-de-mer that will involve marrying traditional or local and western science knowledge.

Shaded grass area near beach with people looking at a tape measure stretched out with paper notes lying beside the tape measure

Monitoring training exercise for community members.

CSIRO is providing advice and support to Mr Alifereti Tawake, a researcher for James Cook University, as he works directly with communities and Torres Strait regional government officers.

The outcomes from this project will provide a basis for other island communities that wish to pursue a co-management approach to fisheries management in the Torres Strait.

Project partners

The partners that are part of this project are:

  • CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
  • CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research
  • James Cook University
  • Australian Fisheries Management Authority
  • Torres Strait Regional Authority
  • Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries
  • Island Councils
  • Community Fisheries Groups.

This project has been funded by the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility.

Read more about Science in Indigenous Communities.