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'Historic' fishing deal signed with SA Native Title group

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Traditional owners have been formally granted unrestricted access to fish in waters off Yorke Peninsula under what the State Government describes as an Australian-first agreement with a Native Title group.

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Premier Steven Marshall and Regional Development Minister David Basham signed the “historic” deal with the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation this week, formalising the rights of the First Nations people of the Yorke Peninsula to practice traditional fishing.

Under the deal, the State Government will continue to manage fishery and aquatic resources, but Narungga people now hold a formal right to fish off the Yorke Peninsula in keeping with their customs and in recognition of their connection to the sea.

Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation CEO Klynton Wanganeen described fishing as “integral” to Narungga identity, with the practice “fundamental to the understanding of our country as a whole”.

“Narungga People and their ancestors have owned and occupied the land ‘Guuranda’ – now known as Yorke Peninsula – and the surrounding waters and islands since time immemorial,” he said.

“Fishing is not only important to the Narungga lifestyle, it also provides sustenance to Narungga People, and fish and other aquatic species are vital to our cultural and spiritual lives.

“This agreement formalises the rights of Narungga people to enjoy, exercise and maintain Aboriginal fishing practices in a sustainable way – as we’ve been doing as long as we’ve been living on these lands.”

Wanganeen said the deal also set out how Narungga people would manage their traditional fishing activities in consideration of traditional lore and customs.

The deal was one of several commitments outlined in the Buthera Agreement signed by the Narungga Nation and former State Government in 2018 as part of the now-abolished treaty process.

Marshall, who is also Aboriginal Affairs Minister, said the Traditional Fishing Agreement represented the “formal inclusion of Aboriginal knowledge, and the inclusion of Elders, and their communities, in the way we manage fisheries in South Australia”.

“The knowledge of the land and sea collected by Narungga people over the thousands of years they’ve lived here, is invaluable and can help ensure appropriate cultural considerations are made in the management of our fisheries,” he said.

Basham added that the agreement would ensure the Narungga Nation “will continue to enjoy, exercise and maintain Aboriginal traditional fishing practices in a sustainable way”.

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