Maningrida Aboriginal coastal fishing enterprise: lessons learned and future prospects

Thursday, 7 June 2018
Dr Natasha Stacey
Don Wilton
Jimmy Olsen

In 2008, Australia’s High Court ruled that Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory (NT) extends to the low water mark. This made way for the NT Government to legislate for the creation of Aboriginal Coastal Fishing Licences for the coastal land owners. Three Traditional Owners (TO) from outstations near Maningrida were the first group to commence operations under the new Aboriginal Coastal Fishing Licence provisions in 2016 which allow them to catch and sell select fish species using a variety of gear. The fishing business is supported by Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and is helped by family members via participation in the Community Development Program. The NT Government also provides training and mentoring support.

In this presentation we report on the results of a qualitative project to evaluate the fishing venture.
The results provide the first assessment of a small-scale Indigenous coastal fishing business in north Australia. We describe the fishery and business operations; the successes and barriers, and the benefits (economic, health, cultural, social). We review the suitability of legal and policy frameworks to encourage the development of viable TO-led seafood ventures in northern Australia. We also discuss the aspirations of the Aboriginal Licence holders for the future.