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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Indian Ocean Territories

Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are external territories of Australia, and are collectively referred to as the Indian Ocean Territories (IOTs). 

map of WA with the Indian Ocean Territories (IOTs) highlighted

Under a Service Delivery Arrangement with the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, we manage commercial, recreational (including charter) and aquaculture activities at Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands, in addition to providing fish health diagnostic services, biosecurity, fish pathology and licensing services.

The Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development currently holds responsibility for the territorial seas (out to 12 nautical miles) of the two islands under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 (WA)(CKI) (CI).

diver mid water near large drop wall
The ‘drop off’ at Christmas Island is very close to shore, quickly giving way to water up to 3,000 metres deep.

In order to ensure that the fish stocks at Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are managed sustainably (to make sure that there are fish stocks for future generations of island residents), we have developed a set of Island-specific recreational fishing guidelines. These guidelines have been developed following consultation with on-island community members over several years and recognise community views as well as concerns for the sustainability of fish, crustacean and shellfish stocks.

The guidelines are not currently finalised into legislation (not law as yet) but, to avoid overfishing, people are asked to abide by them all the same:

Proposed rules for sustainable fishing– Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Proposed rules for sustainable fishing – Christmas Islands

It is our intention that the guidelines will be made into legislation in the near future. 

The remote location of the IOTs, as well as the fact that they lie directly where two bioregions (the Indian and Indo-Pacific) mix or overlap, is the key to their unique marine biodiversity. The IOTs are home to marine species, habitats and migration events that occur nowhere else in Australia – or the world.

Since 2006, we have conducted risk assessments at the IOTs to focus research and monitoring on commercial, recreational and iconic fish species, as well as fish habitats. We also collaborate with other institutes, both on and off the islands, encouraging additional research and monitoring to ensure the sustainability of the unique marine resources of the IOTs.

In order to support our fisheries management strategies at the IOTs, an island-specific community education program commenced in June 2007.


Pulu Maraya is one of the 27 islands of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands atoll group

The program was strongly focused on building working relationships with the IOTs school communities. This process included scoping and consultation with teachers, development and delivery of education programs with students, and collaboration with external stakeholders including scientists and on-island government and service delivery agencies.

This strong foundation has allowed further expansion of the program into the broader community. Activities have included beach clean ups, school holiday programs, working with the Cocos Shire Council Youth Group and involving community members in the school education program.

If you would like more information, contact IndianOceanTerritories@fish.wa.gov.au

Last modified: 15/08/2016 11:46 AM

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