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South Coast Aboriginal people want to practice cultural fishing free from harassment

The South Coast of New South Wales is famed for its sapphire waters and internationally acclaimed seafood -- its oysters, lobsters and abalone.

Fishing has been carried out on this coastline for millennia. There's evidence of middens here dating back 20,000 years.

The South Coast Aboriginal people have a native title claim pending for this stretch of coast from south of Botany Bay to Eden, near the Victorian border. It's a few years off, but it looks likely that they'll get it.

Wally Stewart, applicant for the South Coast native title claim, says cultural fisherman are being harassed. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Wally Stewart, applicant for the South Coast native title claim, says cultural fisherman are being harassed. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

But in the meantime, the Salt Water people feel like they're being harassed, persecuted and prevented from engaging in their cultural fishing.

Fishing is a big part of life on Salt Water country. But over three decades First Nations fishers have been prosecuted under laws designed to maintain the sustainability of fisheries.

This is the beauty about my mob: we're a stubborn mob, and it's in us to keep going back. And if they didn't and we let this government in New South Wales keep intimidating us and prosecuting us, that could have severed our Native Title.

Wally Stewart, Salt Water Elder and Cultural Fishing activist

Voice of Real Australia speaks to Aboriginal People who are fighting to maintain their right to fish their traditional waters.

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This story When culture is a crime: Fishing on the South Coast first appeared on The Canberra Times.