The objects of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (the Act) include “to recognise the spiritual, social and customary significance to Aboriginal persons of fisheries resources and to protect, and promote the continuation of, Aboriginal cultural fishing.”
Aboriginal cultural fishing is defined, for the purposes of the Act, as fishing activities and practices carried out by Aboriginal persons for the purpose of satisfying their personal, domestic or communal needs, or for educational or ceremonial purposes or other traditional purposes, and which do not have a commercial purpose.
Section 37 Authorities
If Aboriginal people wish to take fish outside the current regulation to cater for larger cultural gatherings and ceremonies they must apply for a special authority to be issued under section 37 of the Fisheries Management Act 1994. The purpose of this provision, amongst other things, is to enable Aboriginal people to take fish outside the rules of commercial and recreational fishing to satisfy cultural needs.
The application form and process for obtaining a section 37 authority has undergone changes in the past following feedback from Aboriginal people and departmental staff. The current form requires the following information with applications to be submitted at least 3 weeks before the gathering, ceremony or event:
- The name and addresses of the applicant and those who will be fishing;
- The organisation and the event for which the permit is sought;
- The location of the event;
- The number of people attending;
- The location of where fishing will occur;
- The species and quantities to be taken; and
- The type of car that will be used to transport the fish to the event
The requirement to provide information such as location and date of fishing, proposed harvest and fishers’ names is important because:
- Information such as the number and size of fish being caught can be used to promote sustainable harvest by all user groups.
- If compliance officers know the date and location of fishing activity, cultural fishing can be promoted and claims of illegal fishing easily refuted.
Feedback obtained from Aboriginal people and communities in 2009 to help formulate the revised guidelines for cultural fishing in NSW will be used by the Aboriginal Fishing Advisory Council to further refine this authority system for cultural fishing in future.
Download the Application for taking fish for Aboriginal Cultural or Ceremonial Use (52 kb,). A form can also be obtained from any local Fisheries Office or by contacting the DPI Fisheries Business Services Unit on (02) 9527 8411. DPI staff are available to help complete this form.
Recreational Fishing Licence Fee – exemption
The Fisheries Management Act 1994 now articulates Aboriginal cultural fishing as distinct and separate from recreational and commercial fishing.
As such, as at 1 April 2010, fishers who are Aboriginal persons are exempt from paying a fishing fee. Any Aboriginal persons (as defined in section 4 of the Fisheries Management Act 1994) are not required to pay the recreational fishing fee.
This provides additional standing protection for small scale domestic cultural fishing purposes which were not seen as being provided for under the previous exemption provisions. Removing barriers to accessing the resource goes to ensuring the spiritual, social and customary significance of the fisheries resource to Aboriginal people is recognised and the continuation of Aboriginal cultural fishing is promoted - both of which are objects of the Act.
Cultural resource use in NSW Marine Parks
Marine parks protect examples of marine biodiversity and provide for a range of sustainable uses, including fishing and cultural activities.
For information about how the Marine Parks Authority facilitates Aboriginal involvement in the management of marine parks and supports the collection of fish and marine plants for subsistence, medicinal and other Aboriginal cultural purposes within a marine park, including through special purpose zones, Cultural Resource Use Agreements and event permits see the Aboriginal Engagement and Cultural Use of Fisheries Resources Policy (www.mpa.nsw.gov.au).
For more information and zoning plan user guides for each marine park, visit the NSW Marine Park Authority website or call 1300 550 474.
Fishing and cultural workshops
A number of fishing and cultural workshops for Aboriginal children are undertaken each year as part of a state-wide program run by DPI and supported by funds from the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust.
These workshops are undertaken in partnership with Aboriginal groups/organisations and educators, and are free to each participant.
The workshops not only offer Aboriginal children fishing skills, they also teach them social interaction skills and provide a great opportunity for the parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles to share their knowledge.
Children receive a rod, reel, hat, tackle box, educational material and a Certificate of Achievement recognising the knowledge and experience they have gained on fishing and Aboriginal culture.
The activities include a guided fishing session and talks on:
- rules and regulations
- fishing safety
- conservation of fish habitats
- cleaning your catch
- knot tying
- line rigging and baiting
- casting techniques and retrieval of fish
- Aboriginal culture
Workshops are for school children (minimum age 8). A workshop will generally last no more than 6 hours and the maximum number of participants is 25.
Limited numbers of workshops are available each year so unfortunately not all requests can be met.
For more information contact:
Fisheries Community Relations Manager
Phone: 02 8437 4915