Oyster Harbour Fishtraps

fish-traps-oyster-habour

Heritage management and a world class interpretation of the Oyster Harbour Fishtraps site near Albany have been completed by the Albany Aboriginal Heritage Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation. 

The Fishtraps are one of the best known and most accessible Aboriginal stone structures on the South Coast of WA.  The Fishtraps are generally in a good state of preservation and are an important and significant site on the Western Australian coastline.

The site consists of eight semi-circles of low loose stone walls along the north shore of Oyster Harbour which is backed by a steep hill. As the tide moved, fish would be stranded inside the courses of deliberately placed stone which would have topped by brush, and could then be collected by Menang people at low tide.

This site is significant to the Menang people of the area and they have a strong commitment to seeing the site managed in a way that will protect it for future generations. The Fishtraps are used as an educational resource for Menang children, local people and visiting tourists.  The Department of Aboriginal Affairs has provided professional, technical and on-ground support to the local Menang community and is pleased to be a major contributor to the success of this and other heritage projects across the region.

The significance of this site includes the fact they were first recorded by Vancouver in 1791 and were in the first group of sites to be declared as Protected Areas under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (gazetted May 1973). Because of its significance, the site was vested in the National Trust in the 1966.  It was given back to Menang people through the Albany Heritage Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation in a ceremony in 2009 who have been working since then on a management and interpretation project for the site.

A boardwalk and shelter have now been installed with signage that outlines the significance of the site, explains how they were used and the role they played in the life of Menang people. The site was opened in a ceremony in May 2015.  The project was supported by many groups, particularly Menang people and the Aboriginal community of the Albany area, but also the City of Albany, DAA, H&H architects, the Great Southern Grammar, local residents and the Great Southern Institute of Technology.

Funding has been received from Lotterywest, DAA and Royalties for Regions.