GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
5.9 Traditional use of marine resources
5.9.1 Current state and trends of traditional use of marine resources
Traditional Owners’ connection to sea country within the Region continues to be practised and maintained according to traditional customs and spiritual lore, reflecting ongoing stewardship and custodianship. Traditional use of marine resources is the undertaking of activities as part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s customs or traditions, for the purpose of satisfying personal, domestic or communal needs. It includes fishing, collecting (for example, shellfish) and hunting, as well as looking after cultural and heritage sites. For thousands of years, traditional use of the Region’s marine resources has been conducted by Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. Impacts such as coastal development, habitat degradation, vessel strike on wildlife, marine debris, extractive use and land-based run-off have affected Traditional Owners’ use of the marine environment (see Chapter 6). Some Traditional Owners are now working in partnership with government agencies to conserve and protect species and ecosystems critical to the health of people, culture and country. There is limited information about trends in traditional use of the Region. Management Traditional Owners with sea country in the Region have traditionally managed the sustainability of their practices as part of maintaining their culture and livelihoods. In the modern context, traditional use must be considered in the overall management of the Region along with many other, often competing, uses and their associated impacts. Traditional Owners from a number of communities have been working collaboratively with managing agencies to manage their sea country through developing and implementing Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements. There are currently seven Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements (covering 43,221 square kilometres or about 13 per cent of the Region) and one Indigenous Land Use Agreement (Figure 5.26). The area covered by the agreements has more than doubled since the Outlook Report 2009.
Figure 5.26 areas of the Great Barrier reef covered by traditional Owner agreements, 2014
Some Traditional Owners have formalised their aspirations for sea country through Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreements and Indigenous Land Use Agreements.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Board membership has included a Traditional Owner representative from the Region for most of the time since late 1996, contributing to setting policy and management direction for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Through their own practices and partnerships with managing agencies, including through the Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements, Traditional Owners are working to look after culturally significant species such as dugongs and green turtles. Dedicated Indigenous community compliance liaison officers of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority work with Traditional Owners and the wider Indigenous community to identify and document concerns about illegal activities on sea country, resulting in improved reporting and detection of illegal activities. Six Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements have an approved Compliance Management Plan, and the seventh is under development. Two have also been developed for areas that do not yet have a Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement (Mackay area and Northern Peninsula area).156
There are Traditional Owner agreements for about 13 per cent of the Region.