Earlier this year, members of the Yuin nation were granted cultural fishing permits for Sydney’s Botany Bay after 35 long years.
In celebration of the first weekend of school holidays, local Aboriginal children and their families converged on Botany Bay to take part in a cultural fishing experience, run by the La Perouse Cultural Fishing Group.
“They were just over the moon,” Yuin fisherman Trevor Walker told NITV News.
“It was the first time they’d seen someone shoot net out and pull it in and we had the kids doing all the work, pulling fish out of the net.”
Before they got started, a smoking ceremony was held and there was a short training exercise.
The kids also had some lessons in spear making, which were constructed from gerara and gymea lily that had been collected by the men from down the south coast especially for the day.
And once the fish had been caught in the nets, they got to have a go at spearing the fish the traditional way.
Despite La Perouse and Botany Bay being a significant place in Aboriginal history, the cultural fishing permits are not permanent, with the fishers having to reapply each time they want to fish.
The La Perouse Cultural Fishing Group originally teamed up with the New South Wales Aboriginal Fishing Rights Group to support the idea of gaining permits to fish along the south coast, and in particular, Sydney’s Botany Bay area.
“It came from people from our tribe wanting to address this injustice and not being able to take a feed home basically,” Mr Walker said.
“We’ve been watching the mullet go past every year, and particularly the old people love mullet. It’s a strong fish in terms of health benefits because it contains high levels of omega 3.”
Although the mullet was a strong part of Yuin people’s culture, current fishing restrictions, which are referred to as ‘bag limits’ by the fisheries, allow just 10 per person.
“There may only be the people in the family who are the collectors, the divers. It could be up to 20 people you’re getting fish for when Aboriginal people are only allowed to get 10 abalone,” Mr Walker said.
“When you’re getting food for your parents and uncles and aunties and grandparents, 10 isn’t going very far.”
However it’s not deterring the men from continuing tradition, with a submission already made for March next year – prime abalone season.