8 July 2018
Aquaculture for the future of Groote

A STUDY is underway to see what marine and freshwater species would be most suitable for an aquaculture industry on Groote Eylandt.

The ALC has engaged Dr Rik Buckworth from Fisheries Research and Education at Charles Darwin University to help put together a team of scientists to assess up to 26 different types of aquaculture species that could be farmed around the island, such as fish, prawns, trepang, crabs, lobsters, oysters, crocodiles and seaweed.

ALC Mining and Environment manager Ross McDonald said they would determine which species were best suited to Groote and most commercially viable. The researchers were on Groote in May and will also report back on five different locations that they tested for toxic material and water quality. “We are also looking to other communities in other parts of the NT to work together cooperatively to market and process what we produce,” Ross said.

Aquaculture is a key focus of the ALC Strategic Plan, which aims to diversify Groote Eylandt’s economy to replace the current reliance on mining royalty income. ALC chief executive Mark Hewitt said the Anindilyakwa people did not currently take advantage of the economic development opportunities of Groote’s large coastline and pristine marine environment. “The Anindilyakwa people have strong customary links with their aquatic environments and rely on fish for food and culture,” Mark said. “However, unlike other NT communities, the Anindilyakwa people do not currently take advantage of the economic development opportunities afforded them by a fertile seabed environment.”

Historically, Groote traded sea products with its northern Maccassan neighbours prior to European occupation. In recent years, the island has seen small scale trepang industries developed with mixed results. The ALC hopes to target the lucrative Asian export markets.

Ross said they hope to get all Anindilyakwa clans involved in a sustainable future around aquaculture.

DIVERSIFY: Groote Eylandt has had various small scale trepang industries in the past.