Commercial and non-commercial use
Traditional use of marine resources continues to provide environmental, social and cultural benefits.
Participants in the Eyes and Ears Incident Reporting program and compliance training for Indigenous community members have included Indigenous rangers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members and Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef. More than 300 people have taken part in compliance supporting training packages since 2009. Indigenous rangers contribute to on-ground joint compliance patrols and surveillance within the Region. As a result of the training and education activities there are many more reporting opportunities from geographically isolated locations and the number of reported illegal poaching incidents is expected to increase in the shorter term.156 In 2013, the Australian Government announced a dugong and turtle protection plan that will increase Indigenous ranger enforcement and compliance programs to address illegal poaching.
5.9.2 Benefits of traditional use of marine resources
The continuing sea country management and custodianship of the Great Barrier Reef by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners is an important component to the heritage values of the Region. Many Traditional Owners use marine resources to practise their sustainable ‘living maritime culture’, provide traditional food for families,157 and educate younger generations about traditional and cultural rules, protocols and activities in sea country.158 Traditions are of high cultural importance, while social sharing during special events that require traditional resources is also critical to maintaining culture.157 Traditional Owners hold many cultural, economic and spiritual connections to the Region, establishing effective partnerships with them helps protect cultural and heritage values, conserve biodiversity and enhance the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.
5.9.3 Impacts of traditional use of marine resources
Impacts attributable to traditional use of marine resources undertaken according to customs and traditions are considered to have only minor or localised effects. Though the traditional use of marine resources is considered largely sustainable, some culturally important species such as dugongs are facing multiple other threats. In response, some Traditional Owner groups have voluntarily agreed not to hunt dugongs for a period of time.159,160 This is distinct from illegal poaching of species of conservation concern undertaken without the customary approval of the relevant Traditional Owners — a focus of compliance effort in the Region.156 There have been some recent examples of incompatible use between Traditional Owners’ cultural use of marine resources in the sea country areas where they express their native title rights and the activities of tourism operators and other visitors.14
Levels of traditional take are considered sustainable.
Karen and Alison Liddy walking along the eastern side of Marrpa Island (Princess Charlotte Bay) on a cultural heritage trip, 2012