Aboriginal groups join fish fight

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

FOUR local Aboriginal groups have united to fight for indigenous fishing rights in the proposed Cape Byron Marine Park.

At a meeting at Mullumbimby this week 30 members of the Bundjalung Aboriginal nation from Byron Bay, the Tweed, Casino and Lismore, declared that they would fight moves to cut them off from their traditional fishing areas.

The group also decided to support Byron Bay's Arakwal people's native title claims within the park.

"All we want to do is to be able to throw a line and get a feed of pippis," Arakwal spokesperson Yvonne Stewart said.

"I'm not going to be the one to go and tell the aunties (Arakwal elders) that they can't go and pick up pippis and fish at the places they've been fishing at from time immemorial.

"Indigenous fishing and water access is no different to the indigenous access and management of land.

"We want our people to look after the water just as we do on the land."

Ms Stewart said that, while the Arakwal were the only group to have registered native title claims within the park, Aboriginal people from as far as Casino also had cultural ties to the beaches and open waters off Cape Byron, and that is why she had organised for the united front from the Bundjalung people.

The Arakwal were still considering pulling out from the marine park negotiations if indigenous users were locked out of certain sanctuary zones, Ms Stewart said.

Instead they would pursue their native title claims, lodged a decade ago.

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