Cultural fishing

Cultural Fishing Regulation

A Garby elder

The Fisheries Management Act 1994 (the Act) aims “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 in 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 Cultural Fishing Authorities

If access to fisheries resources is needed beyond what the current cultural fishing rules provide for (for events such as for a large cultural gathering or ceremonies), application for an authority (permit) can be made  under section 37 of the Act.

Download the Application for taking fish for Aboriginal Cultural or Ceremonial Use (PDF, 79.66 KB). Forms can also be obtained from any local DPI Fisheries office or by contacting (02) 4424 7400 or (02) 4916 3954. DPI staff are available to help complete this form. Applications should be submitted where possible at least 6 weeks before the event.

Recreational Fishing Licence Fee – exemption

Fishers who are Aboriginal persons are exempt from paying a fishing fee. This provides additional standing promotion  for small scale domestic cultural fishing activities. Removing barriers to accessing the resource is in keeping with recognition under the Act of  the spiritual social and customary significance to Aboriginal people.

Cultural resource use in NSW Marine Parks

The Marine Estate Management Act 2014 provides the legislative framework for the creation of a system of marine protected areas in NSW.

Aboriginal cultural fishing is permitted within marine parks if it:

  • complies with the marine park zoning or
  • is in conjunction with a marine parks permit.

Along with a marine parks permit, a section 37 cultural fishing authority may also be required to support cultural fishing activities if the activities are contrary to current fishing rules and regulations.

Cultural use of fisheries resources is supported in marine parks by DPI’s Aboriginal Engagement and Cultural Use of Fisheries Resources Policy (PDF, 171 KB).

Aboriginal 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 participants.

The workshops are fun events which offer Aboriginal children the chance to gain useful fishing skills. The workshops also give opportunities for the parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles to share and impart their cultural knowledge and experiences with the children.

Children receive a fishing 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.

For more information contact Fisheries Community Relations Manager, George Mannah by email (george.mannah@dpi.nsw.gov.au) or phone 02 8437 4915.