An introduction to aboriginal fishing cultures and legacies in seafood sustainability

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The purpose of this paper was to explore the rich legacy of Aboriginal fishing cultures through historical and contemporary records, in order to inductively identify cultural and social elements which may enhance the aquatic resource sustainability knowledge and ethos in Australia. A thorough, comprehensive and analytical literature review was conducted. The literature review explored the importance of Aboriginal Peoples’ (AP) fishing cultures, and identified examples of fishing practices, ideology and sustainable philosophy, which may be beneficial in sustainably managing dwindling seafood resources. The overriding theme of Aboriginal Peoples’ fishing cultures is the taking of enough fish to ease personal/community hunger, and restricted fishing based on seasons and/or stock abundance. This practice protects fish during vulnerable or important stages, such as spawning, allowing fish stocks to regenerate, and allowing fish to be caught when they are healthy and most nutritious. It is considered that the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia can contribute significant knowledge to the management of dwindling aquatic resources. Access to sacred sites and favourite fishing grounds would benefit communities, would increase the contact between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples, and may assist in an interchange of sustainability information and philosophy. The world’s aquatic resources are dangerously depleted. Without a significant shift in focus, this will continue. Rather than relegate the fishing cultures of Aboriginal Peoples to ‘histories past’, we can learn valuable lessons to conserve aquatic resources, and to better understand the interconnectedness with the environment inherent in their cultures. Fishing is used as a generic term for both freshwater and marine fishing in this article.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9724
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2020


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