Yirrganydji people celebrate sea country agreement

Published: 26/06/2014

Traditional Owners in the Cairns region are today celebrating the launch of a Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement which outlines how they will manage their sea country and its resources.

The five-year agreement between the Yirrganydji people and the Australian and Queensland governments, covers an offshore area of 2066 square kilometres between Cairns and Port Douglas in North Queensland. It includes important tourism sites and several Marine Park, National Park and Conservation Park zones.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority general manager Andrew Skeat said the voluntary agreement would ensure the traditional use of marine resources such as turtle and dugong was sustainable, and that valuable cultural practices continue to coexist with the conservation and management of the Great Barrier Reef.

“This is a significant day for both the agency and the Yirrganydji people because it marks the culmination of two years of work in developing the first marine resources agreement for the Cairns to Port Douglas area,” Mr Skeat said.

“This agreement acknowledges the Traditional Owners’ cultural authority over the area and their important and ongoing role in managing that sea country.

“We look forward to working with the Yirrganydji people over the next few years in implementing this agreement.”

The agreement recognises the Yirrganydji people’s cultural authority to stop illegal activities that are occurring in their sea country through a compliance management plan.

Yirrganydji Traditional Owners representative Gavin Singleton said a major area of concern for his people was illegal hunting of marine animals.

“Under this agreement our hunting laws are legally enforceable and Yirrganydji is now working in partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to stamp out illegal activities, particularly the illegal hunting of dugong and turtle,” Mr Singleton said.

He said the agreement was also an important acknowledgement of his people’s culture and ongoing connections to sea country.

“By continuing our culture, traditions and customary activities, the traditional terrestrial and marine resources will be preserved for all our future generations.

“This agreement provides a formal framework for us to uphold our obligations and inherent responsibilities to look after our land and sea country.”

The accreditation of the Yirrganydji agreement brings to eight the number of Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements and Indigenous Land Use Agreements now in place. They cover a total of 45,207 square kilometres of sea country along the Great Barrier Reef coast and involve 16 Traditional Owner Groups.

The Yirrganydji agreement is being implemented with support from the Australian Government’s Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program, administered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Media opportunity:

What: Launch of Yirrganydji Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement
When: 2pm – 2.30pm, Friday 27 June 2014
Where: Holloways Beach Environmental Education Centre, 46 Poinsettia Street, Holloways Beach

Name: GBRMPA media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846