Australian Indigenous women’s seafood harvesting practices and prospects for integrating aquaculture

Ann E. Fleming, Lisa Petheram, Natasha Stacey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore Australian Indigenous women’s customary use of marine resources and views on aquaculture as a development opportunity. The value participants placed on economic, social and cultural outcomes were explored, as were benefit sharing, governance and business considerations.

Design/methodology/approach: Using a form of action research, workshops were conducted with a focus group of Indigenous women and interviews with men and women living on a remote island off northern Australia. Multimedia materials and a game were used to elicit a deeper understanding and facilitate discussion.

Findings: Women preferred aquaculture options respectful of culture and accommodating cultural and family obligations, that engage young adults in meaningful work, improve access to sea country and provide local foods and support economic development. Participants placed significant dependence on their governance body to support businesses and expressed disparate views on profit sharing. Women continue to engage in customary harvesting and fishing but various limitations impact on this.

Research limitations/implications: Conclusions based on one case study need to be confirmed in other communities. Future research should include a broader representation of youth and strategies to improve people’s understanding of aquaculture operations and business management.

Social implications: This research improves our understanding of Indigenous women’s preferred economic development pathways and their advocacy role within the community. These findings are relevant for policy-makers, businesses, other Indigenous communities and researchers.

Originality/value: This paper seeks to recognise and integrate Indigenous women’s economic and cultural aspirations within development policy. Such a place-based, gender-based consultative process is generally lacking in the Australian Indigenous policy arena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-181
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Enterprising Communities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2015


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