In a major initiative to enhance Aboriginal economic participation in New South Wales, the state government has selected three Aboriginal community-owned businesses to join the Aboriginal Fisheries Business Development Program.
The program led by the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Department of Regional NSW is set to bolster the presence of Aboriginal-owned businesses in the commercial fisheries sector.
Initially, 16 Aboriginal-community-owned fisheries business proposals were submitted and out of these, three were chosen to receive mentoring and support as they develop their business models as part of a long-term vision to increase Indigenous commercial fishing.
These three include a commercial fishing enterprise by the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation on the North Coast, the Walbunja Aboriginal Fishing Cooperative in collaboration with Joonga Land and Water Aboriginal Corporation on the South Coast, and a recirculated aquaculture and aquaponics venture with the Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation in the Upper Hunter region.
The initiative aims to foster new, economically viable commercial fishing, aquaculture, seafood processing, or tourism-related businesses that are both owned and managed by Aboriginal community organisations or businesses.
In making the announcement Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty said "Aboriginal communities maintain a distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationship with their land and waters, and we continue to work towards increasing their participation in commercial fisheries businesses so that economic and social benefits flow back to their communities."
Participants will progress through the program, developing feasibility assessments, business proposals, and business cases with guidance from the program partners. The program also intends to create case studies that can be replicated across the state and in other jurisdictions such as Western Australia, where governments have worked to encourage the growth of more Aboriginal community-owned fisheries businesses.
This initiative marks a crucial step in promoting Aboriginal entrepreneurship and participation in the commercial fisheries sector, promising a new wave of Aboriginal businesses along the NSW coastline.
"The program is part of the NSW Government's response to the Closing the Gap national targets, aiming to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's legal rights or interests in the sea," said Minister Moriarity.