• Fisherman Rod Ella sits in the boat with the net cast to catch mullet. Picture: The La Perouse Cultural Fishing Group. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
For the next few weeks a group of Bidgigal fishermen are returning to their traditional hunting grounds - the waters of Sydney's Botany Bay.
Philip Ly

28 Mar 2016 - 3:00 PM  UPDATED 28 Mar 2016 - 3:00 PM

Indigenous fishermen have regained their cultural fishing practices at Botany Bay, at least 35 years after being banned, they say.

The NSW Fisheries have allowed a group of Bidgigal fishermen to practice net hauling on mullet for the six weeks leading to the end of April.

One of the fishermen, Trevor Walker hopes it will become an annual event and says, as a child, net hauling during mullet season was a yearly tradition.

He said being allowed to do it again will revive a cultural practice.

“It’s about the regeneration of our culture, trying to reunite our community and getting the cultural practice back,” Mr Walker says. 

The group of fishermen are allowed to catch a total of 100 boxes of mullet, each box weighing between 25-30kg.

They will then hand the fish out to the community in a non-commercial capacity, and deliver it to those who cannot bring baskets to collect the fish, such as the elderly, Mr Walker says.

He says eating fish, a staple, has obvious health benefits, and the Indigenous community has suffered as a result of not being able to fish for their food.

“Unfortunately we’re not free from those health issues found in remote and rural communities,” he says.

“We got this view of our community and how it is currently, and we want to improve relationships across families to be more cohesive, and that’s about us wanting to be a stronger community to fight these issues affecting our people.”

He says a program will be developed to teach the younger generation, who constantly ask him if they have caught many fish yet, about net hauling these school holidays.

NSW Recreational Fishing Alliance chairman Stan Kanstantaras is backing the Indigenous community’s return to the waters.

He says after meeting with them, the goals of the two groups are almost identical.

“We share the local values and that is fresh fish. It’s also a family activity. We are supportive, happy and thankful to have engaged and have listened to what they are trying to achieve,” he says.

Mullet have been a traditionally targeted fish, which come out of estuaries at this time of year and travel north.

The Bidgigal people fish by rowing and hooking their boat around with the help of two spotters, who stand at a high point to observe the movements of the fish near Little Congwong Beach. 

NSW Fisheries has been contacted for comment.