Aboriginal Fishing Trust Fund

Trust Overview

The Aboriginal Fishing Trust Fund (AFTF) provides grants and loans for the enhancement, maintenance and protection of Aboriginal cultural fishing as well as for Aboriginal communities to develop businesses associated with fisheries resources throughout NSW.

The Trust is established under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 which directs expenditure and establishes other key operational rules including the involvement of the Aboriginal Fishing Advisory Council (AFAC) in advising on expenditure. Applications for funds are assessed on their merits against set criteria.

Projects funded by the Trust

The AFTF looks to fund a wide range of projects across both coastal and inland regions in NSW, which promote Aboriginal cultural fishing or provide fishing related economic opportunities for Aboriginal people.

In 2017/18 the AFTF supported the following projects:


Fulfilment of a dream and vision to establish a sustainable Indigenous business

This project aims to restore an inherited family oyster aquaculture business in Wonboyn Lake, with focus on long-term operational sustainability, and promoting employment opportunities for the local community.


Cultural fishing project

Supporting the community to gather around fishing for the mullet run.


Cultural net making workshop

This project involves running a series of workshops for community members where they will get involved in making fishing equipment for use during cultural gatherings and events.


Commercial fishing business

Funding will support the development of a business and marketing plan, as well as purchasing of operational equipment needed for business to be viable and support Aboriginal people remaining engaged in the commercial fishing industry.


Commercial fishing business

Funding will provide support to reforming the business’ fishing operations, to build an operation that supports Aboriginal people remaining in engaged in the commercial fishing industry into the future.


Commercial fishing business

Providing support for the purchase of operational equipment with aim to support continued involvement in the commercial fishing industry.


Revegetation project and cultural workshops

This project links revegetation of specific native plants used as material for weaving, as well as facilitating workshops that promote cultural fishing practices and improve broader community awareness.


Habitat works and cultural fishing education

This project will educate the community on cultural fishing practices and increase fish habitat at the Bulgandramine Mission site through planting native species and weed reduction.


Development of a Sea Country Management Plan

The project aims to understand environmental conditions and issues along with community aspirations so as to be able to promote the overarching aim of progressing to a plan that promotes local community involvement in monitoring and enhancing cultural fishing grounds by undertaking innovative targeted habitat restorations, estuary health assessments, education and awareness programs while creating opportunity for the future management of aquatic resources.


Commercial fishing business

Providing support for the purchase of operational equipment with aim to support continued involvement of this long established Aboriginal business in the commercial fishing industry.


Development of fishing facilities and education materials

Development of infrastructure and education materials that are culturally appropriate and capture the significance of the environment, fish habitat, wetlands to Aboriginal people of the area and represent their cultural values.


Who can apply?

To be eligible applicants must be:

  1. An Aboriginal person, or
  2. An Aboriginal entity, which includes a family/clan or community organisation, or an Aboriginal owned and run business, or
  3. Someone acting on behalf of an Aboriginal entity.

Note: please refer to the 'Guidelines for Applicants' for the definition of these for the purposes of this program.

When can applications be submitted?

The 2019/20 funding round is currently closed.

Future funding rounds will be advised on the DPI website, as well as through various community organisations and networks and media.

How are funding decisions made?

Applications for funding will be first assessed by the Aboriginal Fishing Trust Expenditure Committee (AFTEC). The AFTEC assesses and ranks applications against set criteria and provides its views to the AFAC. After considering applications and the advice of AFTEC, the AFAC then provide a formal recommendation to the Minister for Primary Industries over expenditure from the Trust. The income and expenditure from the AFTF is subject to an annual audit by the NSW Auditor-General and regular announcements are made about expenditure from the Trust.

Frequently asked questions

Contact the Committee

Executive Officer, AFTEC
c/- NSW Department of Primary Industries
LMB 3020
Nowra NSW 2541
Email: aboriginal.fishingtrust@dpi.nsw.gov.au