Aboriginal aquaculture

Aboriginal peoples in the Northern Territory (NT) have expressed a keen interest in aquaculture opportunities.

The Darwin Aquaculture Centre, in partnership with a range of supporting agencies and Traditional Owners is conducting research on tropical rock oyster aquaculture opportunities, suitable for remote communities.

Tropical rock oysters

Tropical rock oysters have been harvested by Aboriginal people for food and/or trade for 1000’s of years. Since 2009, the Department of Primary Industry and Resources has been investigating the potential for oyster farming with the Yagbani Aboriginal Corporation on South Goulburn Island and the Pirlangimpi community on the Tiwi islands.

The project is developing reliable breeding methods for the tropical blacklip oyster (Saccostrea mytiloides) and grow-out techniques that are suitable for operating in remote areas of the NT. Local Aboriginal people are involved in this work to build their skills in tropical oyster husbandry and assist with the establishment of Aboriginal-owned oyster farming businesses.

A number of different farming systems have been trialled to determine a preferred method, balancing labour, oyster growth and biofouling. This has led to the establishment of a small-scale trial farm on South Goulburn Island.

Hatchery research has increased the production of spat year on year, from several thousand to 100 000’s per run. Work is continuing towards developing a quality assurance scheme to enable the commercial sale of oysters.

For more information contact fisheries.dpir@nt.gov.au

Last updated: 03 September 2019