The Aboriginal Sea Company, a new enterprise to boost Indigenous commercial fishing and other aquaculture industries, has appointed a new chairperson and chief executive.

Calvin Deveraux was elected as chairman by directors at the inaugural company board meeting last month, and Robert ‘Bo’ Carne will commence his role as chief executive in early June.

The recently incorporated Aboriginal Sea Company is governed by a board comprising equal representation from the Northern Land Council, Tiwi Land Council and Anindilyakwa Land Council.

Independent industry experts also sit on the board.

Mr Deveraux, a Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu man from the Finniss area, is currently Twin Hill Aboriginal Corporation’s cattle station manager.

He has been a member of the Northern Land Council full council for the Darwin Daly Wagait region since 2019 and is also a former cultural broker for the NT Attorney-General and Justice Department

Mr Deveraux said the incorporation of the Aboriginal Sea Company marked a major milestone in the Blue Mud Bay settlement.

“I don’t think we’ll look back from this point on,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for Traditional Owners and saltwater people to advance themselves, become owners and operators in their own right and be in charge of their own destinies.”

Mr Carne, a Jabirr Jabirr and Bardi man, has 17 years’ experience in NT Fisheries development and five years’ experience as an NT Government executive.

He visited Canada and the United States in 2012 to investigate governance structures for Indigenous groups involved in commercial fishing, and has reviewed fishing cooperatives in New South Wales as a potential model.

“It’s not just about the fishing licenses, ownership and participation, it’s also about having a greater say in management,” Mr Carne said.

Indigenous people have always had a small voice in the fishing industries, but they are now major players in it.

“On top of that, we’ve got all these coastal communities looking for employment so it’s a great leap forward.”

Northern Land Council chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said Aboriginal people were now closer to being in control of what happens in their own waters.

“Our mob has fought hard for rights to land and sea country for almost 50 years and finally we are seeing progress,” he said.

“The ASC will be good for Traditional Owners and good for the economy.

“All Territorians will benefit from that.”