Community connections key to coping with crisis

The Maningrida community in the Northern Territory has been building a profitable fishing enterprise since its right to sell fish beyond its own community was legally recognised in 2017.

When the pandemic restrictions hit, the local crabbing season came to a premature halt as demand dried up with the cancellation of interstate flights and the closure of restaurants. Nearby communities they were supplying with fish also became inaccessible.

This is when the strong local connections in the Maningrida community came to the fore. “People in our community started asking for fish,” explains Clément Bresson, who is the enterprise development manager for the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation in Maningrida.

“So we started selling to them via Facebook and word of mouth, then later formalised the interactions via an online ordering system. Now we are offering home delivery as well,” he says. The enterprise supplies Barramundi fillets, Mullet, Queenfish and a few Mud Crabs.

While it is not planning to continue home delivery in the long-term, the local community support has helped the venture to survive the current difficult times.

Wallaga Lake Community looking after its people has also helped the Wallaga Lake community at Bermagui in southern New South Wales pull through the crisis.

In March this year, the NSW Aboriginal Fishing Rights Group was given legal permission to access sea country and fish to sustain the local community.

“We built a boat and a net by hand, as my father taught me,” says Wally Stewart, who led the initiative in Yuin Country. “This brought the community together to fish and share the catch.

“This has had enormous mental health and community building effects for us, making us more resilient to face adversity together, such as this pandemic.”

Continue reading the article ‘Community connections key to coping with crisis’, written by Ilaria Catizone, in the FRDC’s FISH Magazine.

Members making their own nets to fish on Yuin Sea Country. Credit: Wally Stewart  Members of the Wallaga Bermagui men's group making their own boat. Credit: Wally Stewart

Image 1: Members making their own nets to fish on Yuin Sea Country. Credit: Wally Stewart
Image 2: Members of the Wallaga Bermagui men's group making their own boat. Credit: Wally Stewart