Meeting summary 28–29 February 2024

The Cape York Special Fisheries Working Group (the working group) held its third meeting on 28 and 29 February 2024.

Mr Linc Walker chaired the meeting and delivered the Acknowledgement of Country with Mr Frank Procter as Deputy Chair.

Through the chair the Executive Director invited Minister Mark Furner and Acting Director General Bernadette Ditchfield to join the meeting.  The members shared the main challenges that each of the communities’ face with entering the fishing industry.  The Minister acknowledged the enormous opportunity that exists for First Nations communities and fishers especially in Charter Fishing, tourism related industry.

The working group discussed the draft Cape York Fishing Economic Development strategic plan.  It was raised by the members that the plan needed further review and further work to be progressed out of session.

It was noted education and training needs to be included in the Strategic Plan as a key pillar to driving economic outcomes for young people and communities who have an interest in entering the fishing industry and exploring school-based trainee programs for marine skills should be pursued.  The chair shared the need to identify pathways to fast-track skills required to get First Nations people in the water fishing.  Achieving this in a way that is flexible with the way community operates is important.  It was suggested an information presentation from TAFE to talk to the group about what training is available and how it can be delivered in community.

The current Grants program was discussed with suggestions provided to improve uptake of applications.

The working group heard presentations from the Indigenous Land and Sea Council (ILSC) and Department of Small Business and Training (DESBT) who shared information on current grant, training, employment and business development programs designed to support First Nations businesses.

Members also tabled a proposal for supporting First Nations commercial fishing, with further discussions by the working group ongoing.

It was noted Dr Ian Mackie, formerly Deputy Director-General, Rural Communities and Acting Deputy Director-General, Fisheries and Forestry and Dr Chris Sarra, former Director-General of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries have accepted new appointments with the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC). It was also acknowledged Mr Adam Robinson, formerly from Regional Thriving Communities, who attended this meeting had also taken a role with DPC and this would be his last official meeting with the group.  The working group thanked Dr Mackie and Sarra and Mr Robinson for establishing the working group and the work they had achieved in the department.

The working group will meet next on 29 May 2024.