Fisheries training helping remote Aboriginal communities develop seafood industry

Delivering specialised marine and fisheries training in remote communities is helping Aboriginal people participate in the seafood industry and enjoy the economic and lifestyle benefits of community fishing enterprises.

Earlier this month, a two-week Certificate II in Fishing Operations training course was held in Maningrida.

The training was part of an Indigenous Marine Training Program that is designed to teach skills in catching fish and delivering them safely to market.

Jointly delivered by the Department of Primary Industry and Resources’ Indigenous Development Unit and the Australian Maritime and Fisheries Academy, the course was run at the request of Aboriginal Coastal Licence holders and Aboriginal community residents of Maningrida.

Two Aboriginal Coastal Licence holders, Don Wilton and James Wood, completed the Certificate II in Fishing Operations course in Nhulunbuy in December 2016 and have both since returned to Maningrida equipped with the skills, knowledge and aspiration to further improve their fishing operations.

The skills and knowledge gained by these men have inspired other Maningrida community members to request training and work with the Aboriginal Coastal Licence holders.

“My family has been fishing forever, it was very hard work to fish in the olden days,” said course participant and local Aboriginal Coastal Licence holder Stuart Yirawara.

“The training course was really good for us to learn how to work like professionals.

“Now we use a long net, a rope and star pickets which makes it a lot easier. We go fishing every week now but we did this course to learn how to do it better.”

Aboriginal Coastal Licences allow Aboriginal people living in remote communities to catch a variety of fish and sell these to the local community, shops, visitors, and even into Darwin or regional centres.

This brings huge benefits to the community by allowing coastal communities to develop small-scale fishing businesses and increase the supply of local, fresh, affordable seafood.

The training was funded by the Northern Territory Government’s Indigenous Responsive Program, which provides funding for regional and remote communities to train workers for projects in the community.

Information about commercial fishing, including Aboriginal Coastal Licences, is available on the nt.gov.au website.

Participants in the Indigenous Marine Training Program
Photo credit: Clem Bresson, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation