TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Indigenous aquatic resource use in the Daly River catchment, Northern Territory

TitleIndigenous aquatic resource use in the Daly River catchment, Northern Territory
Publication TypeConference Participation
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsFinn, M, Jackson, S, Sullivan, E, Huddleston, J, McTaggart, P
Keywords2: Assets and Values

Customary use of aquatic wild resources by Indigenous people in northern Australia can be relatively high, making healthy river systems vital for Indigenous residents, many of whom have low incomes. The practice of harvesting and consuming aquatic resources can make a substantial contribution to household economies, social cohesion and the continuation of cultural practices. A household survey quantifying Indigenous river resource use has been underway for a year in two communities of the Daly River catchment in the Northern Territory, Australia. The quantity and composition of harvested species varied depending on season and between the two surveyed communities. Some species harvested have life histories that can be impacted by water resource development. Examples of this are the Barramundi Lates calcarifer that require connectivity to saline spawning sites, and Long-necked Turtle Macrochelodina rugosa that nest underwater and require billabong wetting and drying regimes to be maintained. Harvested species were usually abundant in the study area and results show differences in preferences between Indigenous and other interest groups in the catchment, such as recreational and commercial fishers. This finding suggests that Indigenous priorities relating to flow management may be quite distinct from other stakeholders. Water allocation planning will need to ensure that it is inclusive of the full range of sectoral priorities and interests if it is to meet the obligations under the National Water Initiative to address the public benefit outcomes of environmental flows, Indigenous customary requirements for water and the protection of native title rights.