Solid Science – Fishing and Fish Traps

Before European colonisation, the Noongar and Yamaji people used a range of fishing practices to catch and gather fish.

One method (as seen in the image) involved arranging stones to form a trap, sometimes several hundred metres in length, to catch fish that came in on the high tide and became trapped when the tide went out. Fish could then be easily caught by hand or with spears. The remains of a stone fish trap still exists on Yued Country at Wedge Island, near Cervantes.

Another method involved catching fish using nets made of vines and other native plants. In the Yamaji region, women and men worked together to catch fish. Women would scare fish down the river into wide nets made of vines, which were held by men. Knowledge of traditional fishing practices still exists.

Traditionally in Noongar culture, women would find and catch turtles. The women would walk slowly through dried up swamps, pools and other waterways, using their toes to feel for breathing holes where freshwater turtles, frogs and gilgies (small freshwater crayfish) were found. In Bunuru (late summer/early autumn) when the country lacked water, Noongar people fished in the oceans.

Fishing is still a popular activity enjoyed by many Yamaji and Noongar families. Fishing is a way to spend time together, supplement their diet, and pass on knowledge to younger generations.

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