Aboriginal Fishing Advisory Council

The Aboriginal Fishing Advisory Council (AFAC) has been established under Section 229 of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 to provide strategic level advice to the Minister for Primary Industries on issues affecting Aboriginal fishing. The Council will continue to play an important role in the development of cultural fishing policy as well as exploring commercial opportunities for Aboriginal communities associated with fishing activities.


The functions of the Council are to:

  1. advise the Minister on any matter that is referred to it and
  2. advise the Minister on any other matter it considers relevant to the Aboriginal fishing sector.

Within these broad functions the Council has focus on the following priority areas:

  • Aboriginal interests in the management of fisheries
  • Aboriginal access to fisheries resources for cultural purposes
  • Commercial/economic opportunities for Aboriginal people flowing from fisheries activity
  • Advice on appropriate cultural awareness training  for DPI Fisheries staff
  • Advice on research priorities relating to Aboriginal people’s connection with the fisheries resource
  • Employment and training for Aboriginal people within DPI and Aboriginal involvement in each sector
  • Advice on expenditure from the Aboriginal Fishing Trust Fund.

Enquiries regarding the Council can be made to DPI on (02) 4424 7400.

AFAC membership

The AFAC is composed of up to fourteen members, as prescribed under the Fisheries Management (General) Regulation 2010.

The membership of the Council must include the following:

  1. Aboriginal persons appointed to represent different regions of the State (not more than 10 persons in total),
  2. one other Aboriginal person,
  3. one person appointed as a representative of NTSCORP Limited,
  4. one person appointed as a representative of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council,
  5. a senior officer of the Department (non-voting member).

The make-up of the Council aims to provide for knowledge and experience of:

  • Aboriginal cultural fishing
  • social and cultural significance of commercial fishing for Aboriginal people
  • fisheries issues affecting Aboriginal people and communities.

The AFAC members also provide knowledge of and capacity to speak for the local region on fisheries related issues.

Current AFAC membership

Member name and regionProfile

Rene Woods

Region 1 Far West NSW


Joe Flick

Region 2 North West NSW

Joe is a proud Ullaroi/Gamilroi man from Western NSW. Joe is a freshwater man and has a passion for the river and the stories of the travels of freshwater fish (Guddo). Joe endorses the sustainability of freshwater fishing and is a member of the Western Catchment Management Authority's Aboriginal Advisory Group that promotes and participates in the effort to reduce the number of noxious fish in the Murray/Darling river system – the European Carp.

Mike Nolan

Region 3 Central NSW


Dave Carter

Region 4 South Western NSW


Adam Ryan

Region 5 Northern NSW


Regina Moran

Region 6 Far North Coast NSW


Chels Marshall

Region 7 North Coast NSW

Chels is from the north coast of NSW and has extensive cultural knowledge of land and sea. Chels also has experience working with communities in this region in natural resource management matters.

Currently vacant

Region 8 Sydney and NSW Central Coast


Patrick Lock

Region 9 South Coast NSW

Danny Chapman

Region 10 Far South Coast NSW

Danny is a saltwater Walbunga man from the south coast of NSW. A major part of his education was learning how to fish, dive and gather food from the sea and estuaries. Danny has commercial fishing knowledge, and has been actively involved in building recognition of Aboriginal people's right to fish at local, state, national and international levels.

Associate Professor
Stephan Schnierer

Other Aboriginal Person
appointed by the Minister

Stephan is currently an academic in the School of Environmental Sciences and Management, at Southern Cross University, and is currently undertaking research on Indigenous cultural fishing in NSW. He has extensive knowledge and experience in fisheries biology and management, Indigenous environmental management and resource rights and Traditional Fishing Knowledge. Stephan has a strong belief in the connection between Indigenous culture and the environment and works as an advocate for the need to review and change environmental policy and legislation that hinders or prevents Indigenous cultural practice.

Natalie Rotumah

Nominee of NTSCORP

Natalie is a proud Minjungbal Bundjalung woman from Tweed Heads South, who has an extensive knowledge of Cultural Fishing. Born the grand-daughter of a deep sea fisherman and an oyster farmer, Natalie understands the complexities of the issues affecting Aboriginal People in the industry first hand and has been involved in the fight for many years to protect the 'Cultural Fishing' rights of Aboriginal People. Natalie is currently employed as the General Manager of NTSCORP Ltd.

Councillor Peter Smith

Nominee of NSWALC

Dungutti man, Peter Smith, hails from Kempsey. Peter is passionate about preserving and promoting traditional cultural practices. Peter is also currently a councillor at the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

Mika Malkki

A Senior Officer of NSW DPI

Mika is the Director, Fisheries Operations within the Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries.

Map of AFAC membership regions

AFAC map