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'Historic' deal to help NT Traditional Owners latch on to business at sea

Giovanni Torre -

The Northern Land Council has reached a major milestone in the historic Blue Mud Bay settlement with incorporation of the Aboriginal Sea Company last Friday.

The NLC has heralded establishment of the Aboriginal Sea Company as a new era of economic empowerment for Indigenous Territorians, where more than 85 per cent of the coastline is under Aboriginal ownership.

The 2008 Blue Mud Bay High Court judgement found Traditional Owners have the right to control access to waters overlying 'Aboriginal Land' including the intertidal zone.

"We have been waiting for this moment ever since we signed the Nitmiluk heads of agreement in 2019," NLC chairman Mr Bush-Blanasi said.

"We have had many critics of land rights over the years, but the sky hasn't fallen in.

"It's good for the economy and it's good for Traditional Owners. Everyone benefits."

The company will facilitate participation of Traditional Owners in commercial fishing, aquaculture and other opportunities.

Northern Land Council chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said the Council had started work to overhaul the NT Fisheries Act.

"Not only will the ASC provide the opportunity for more jobs, but it will enable Aboriginal people to implement profitable and sustainable fishing policies and care for their most precious resource in a way only they know how," he said.

The ASC will be governed by a board comprising equal representation from the three land councils with traditional ownership of sea country â€" Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa land councils; as well as independent industry experts chosen collectively by the land council representatives.

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