Kuti Co, a new Ngarrindjeri owned, multi-million dollar commercial fishing venture was launched in Goolwa Beach on Friday, December 6 and represents a growing opportunity to utilise Goolwa's famous pipis.
The venture, which will create jobs for over 30 local Aboriginal people, will see increased harvesting of pipis (or kutis) in the Lakes and Coorong fishery.
Majority funding from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) has enabled Kuti Co to acquire a fishing licence and a significant quantity of commercial pipi quota and also become a major shareholder in Goolwa PipiCo, Australia's largest pipi processing and marketing company, enabling it to increase its market share of the fishery.
Kuti Co CEO and Ngarrindjeri leader, Derek Walker, said kuti have been harvested, traded and consumed by Aboriginal people along the South Australian coast for at least fifteen thousand years.
"Kuti hold significant cultural and economic importance for Ngarrindjeri people," he said.
"The dunes of the Coorong are littered with middens and campsites containing millions of kuti shells, which is evidence that they were a staple of the diets of our ancestors.
"It has long been an aspiration of the Ngarrindjeri nation to acquire a commercial fishing licence and participate in the fishing economy of our land and waters."
Goolwa PipiCo Chairman, Roger Edwards shared the same enthusiasm for the developing partnership.
"What we're doing with the Ngarrindjeri group is breaking new ground. We hope the success of this venture will translate to other projects of this type," he said.
The Kuti Co venture is jointly owned by the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation, which represents Native Title holders, and Ngopamuldi Aboriginal Corporation, a small corporation with experience in successfully managing land-based enterprises.
It is hoped that harvested pipis will be sold to high-end restaurants, generating a signification annual financial return, which will be reinvested in the Ngarrindjeri community enterprises.
ILSC Chairperson, Eddie Fry, said the launch of Kuti Co sought to target significant improvement in long- term economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits for the Ngarrindjeri people.
"This venture is expected to create significant full-time employment positions, and training for others, in the harvesting and processing of the Ngarrindjeri-owned quota," he said.
"In addition, the Ngarrindjeri people will be in a position to revitalise cultural practices and knowledge associated with the harvest, trade and consumption of kuti.
"This is a significant investment by the ILSC, and is the first foray into sea country asset and business opportunity investment following a change to our remit to include water based projects earlier this year."