Meeting summary 22–23 November 2023

The Cape York special fisheries working group (the working group) held its second meeting on 22 and 23 November 2023.

Dr Ian Mackie (Deputy Director-General, Rural Communities and Acting Deputy Director-General, Fisheries and Forestry) chaired this meeting on behalf of the interim Chair (Dr Chris Sarra, Director-General of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries). An Acknowledgement of Country was led by Mr Adam Robinson (Acting Director, Regional Thriving Communities).

Working group members noted the recent announcements by the Queensland Government about the removal of gillnets in the Great Barrier Reef and current consultation on potential gillnet free areas and general reforms in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The working group agreed these initiatives could potentially benefit Indigenous fishing businesses ready to address the potential reduction in seafood supply.

The working group also noted the Queensland Government, through Fisheries Queensland, will launch a $200,000 Cape York Fisheries Economic Pathways Grants Program early next month. In listening to feedback from Indigenous seafood businesses, Fisheries Queensland will also complement the Cape York grants program with a $100,000 seafood processing and production grant to be made available to Indigenous businesses Queensland wide. Working Group members advised that Cultural benefits should be included in the criteria for accessing these grants.

Mr David Leotta, Managing Director – Queensland Fishing Brokerage, was invited by the working group to provide his insights on Indigenous charter fishing tourism and seafood supply and production opportunities.

In line with self determination, the chair sought advice from members regarding a request to add an information presentation to the agenda. The working group agreed to hear an information presentation from UNGANCO, an Indigenous owned company.

The working group continued the strategic planning process for fishing economic pathways for the Cape York region. A session was undertaken to identify the vision for the strategic plan, identification of strategic objectives, implementation actions and measures of success. Members shared their knowledge and advice on community needs in developing the strategic plan.

An update on Queensland's Path to Treaty Readiness was provided to the working group with members discussing Truth Telling and Healing and resilience of First Nations peoples.

Members undertook a process to select a chair for the working group. Mr Linc Walker was voted unanimously as the chair for the working group with Mr Frank Procter as Deputy Chair.

The working group will next meet on 28–29 February 2024.