Community-initiated & operated mud crab farms at Maningrida & Darwin
Research into mud crab culture, financially supported by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) has resulted in two NT farms being established, one near Maningrida, Arnhem Land, and one near Darwin, both operated by Aboriginal communities.
FRDC funded the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries,
Fisheries and Mines, and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries
and Fisheries to collaboratively develop reliable techniques to ‘close the
life cycle’ of the Scylla Serrata mud crab. The agencies built on work performed in an earlier Australian-Philippines collaboration to develop larval and nursery processes.
Gwalwa Daraniki Enterprises is growing more than 50,000 crabs in some 2.5 ha of saltwater earthern ponds at the Mudla Crab Farm at Kulaluk (PDF: page 4) by Darwin Harbour. The farm will be run by a full-time live-in manager and eight Gwalwa Daraniki apprentices will be trained in vocational aquaculture and small business management through Charles Darwin University.
It is anticipated that more than 15 tonnes of mud crabs will be grown, worth $235,000 a year.
The Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation (BAC) at Numungoorda Crab Farm, Maningrida, (PDF: page 17) stocked a 1500 square metre area netted off in a creek with a batch of 3000 crablets in September ’06. Hatched at the Darwin Aquaculture Centre, they were supplied under a partnership agreement between BAC and the Department of Primary Industry, Fisheries and Mines (DPIFM).
This farm commenced operations in October last year and became the first mud crab aquaculture venture ever established on a regional Indigenous community. A further trial mud crab venture is proposed for the remote Wessel Islands.
Both these projects are community-initiated and serve as guides for similar developments elsewhere.
Other enterprises along the Top end coast
- Aboriginal business people operate coastal line, aquarium fish and developmental crayfish and stingray licences;
- On the Gove Peninsula the Yiwarr Group operates a local seafood shop and is preparing a site for a seafood processing factory and possible aquaculture hatchery;
- The Bawaka people (SE of Yirrkala East Arnhem Land) are organising cultural fishing tours;
- The Tiwi Islanders as well as being involved in the Marine Harvest barramundi farming venture, are involved with a fishing tour operator, commercial crabbing agreements and they operate recreational fishing campsites.
While individual committees investigate a variety of projects the Indigenous Marine Rangers are working to ensure that the marine environments, on which these ventures depend, are protected.
It seems Indigenous ‘sea managers’, backed by government agencies, are developing many marine-based ventures to bring economic benefits to their communities….far more than mainstream Australia has any idea of!