Date: 31 August 2021
Commercial mud crab fisherman, Mr Vu Van Nguyen has been convicted and fined $2,000.00 in the Local Court in Darwin, after being found guilty of working on a sacred site without an Authority Certificate, contrary to section 34 of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1989 (“the Act”).
The Act currently represents the strongest legal protection for places of Aboriginal cultural significance in Australia.
Under the Act, work must not be carried out on a sacred site without an Authority Certificate issued by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA).
In considering an Authority Certificate application, AAPA consults with Aboriginal custodians to understand what conditions must apply to proposed works to ensure the protection of sacred sites.
Between 28 and 29 October 2019, Mr Nguyen anchored his mothership inside the boundaries of a sacred site at the mouth of the Koolatong River in Blue Mud Bay in Arnhem Land, where he conducted mud crab fishing operations.
On 29 October 2019, Northern Territory Police saw Mr Nguyen’s vessel anchored in the mouth of the Koolatong River. The Police took photographs and obtained the GPS co-ordinates of Mr Nguyen’s ship and his operations. Police also showed Mr Nguyen maps with the boundary of the sacred site, and others within Blue Mud Bay.
When Mr Nguyen originally applied to the Director of Fisheries for approval to operate a mud crab license under the Fisheries Act 1988 (NT), he was provided with information about sacred sites that may be located in areas accessed by commercial fishermen. Mr Nguyen signed a document stating he understood his obligations with regards to sacred sites. For Aboriginal Land, there is an onus on a person conducting work to ensure they do not enter or work on a sacred site without the approval of an Authority Certificate.
Media Contact: Kate Sieper – 0466 745 615
THE ABORIGINAL AREAS PROTECTION AUTHORITY (AAPA) IS AN INDEPENDENT STATUTORY ORGANISATION ESTABLISHED UNDER THE NORTHERN TERRITORY ABORIGINAL SACRED SITES ACT, AND IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERSEEING THE PROTECTION OF ABORIGINAL SACRED SITES ON LAND AND SEA ACROSS THE WHOLE OF AUSTRALIA’S NORTHERN TERRITORY.