Walbunja Fishing Rights

Friday, 3 June 2016
Danny Chapman
Tony McAvoy SC
Kathryn Ridge

Walbunja People have been fishing and diving for abalone and lobster on the South Coast of NSW since time immemorial.

Until 1970’s no other people dived for abalone, but once the Asian export market started up, intense pressure has been applied to fishing stocks.

The Abalone industry has been funding fisheries inspectors, who despite many reports acknowledging most of the illegal catch is from underreporting commercial catch, most of the regulatory effort is on the Walbunja people on South Coast.

Historically unable to afford a s 211 Native Title defence, many have pleaded guilty and had criminal convictions recorded, and undergone jail terms causing social, economic and family impacts.

This session documents the regulatory, policy and more importantly, the community changes, since two defences have been successfully run, and prosecutions withdrawn over the past 5 years.