Woppaburra Traditional Owner values protected under new guidelines

In a first for the Great Barrier Reef, new guidelines released today further protect Traditional Owners’ values when permit applications for the Keppel Islands area of the Marine Park are assessed.

The guidelines, developed in partnership between Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Woppaburra Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement (TUMRA) Steering Committee, recommend permit applicants consider how their activities impact on Traditional Owner values.

TUMRA Steering Committee chair Bob Muir said the guidelines recognised the connection the Woppaburra people have to the area and early consultation with Traditional Owners helped to identify any impacts to the values before the application was submitted.

“Woppaburra people have a lifelong physical, cultural and spiritual connection to the land and sea and we have a responsibility to our ancestors to protect the Traditional Owner values,” he said.

“These guidelines provide people wanting to conduct activities in the area with detailed information about our values.

“Where impacts are likely to occur applicants can engage directly with Traditional Owners to work through avoidance and mitigation measures before they apply for a permit.”

Marine Park Authority chairman Russell Reichelt said the new assessment guidelines provided a benchmark for engagement through the Marine Park’s permission system.

“The guidelines go beyond the recognition of sites and structures and include intangible values like stories, song lines, totems and languages specific to the area,” he said.

“We worked closely with the Woppaburra TUMRA Steering Committee to ensure that detailed information was captured and we hope to continue this work with Traditional Owners in other areas of the Marine Park.”

The Woppaburra TUMRA area covers 561 square kilometres of sea country around the Keppel Islands of Central Queensland and has been in place since 2007. A TUMRA includes actions such as exchanging knowledge with scientists, managing traditional hunting protocols, seagrass monitoring and participating in compliance training.

The value assessment guidelines apply to all new permit applicants in the Woppaburra TUMRA area of the Marine Park. They do not impact the conditions of current permits.

Traditional Owner consultation is consistent with the Australia Heritage Commission’s Ask First best practice standards.

The Impact Assessment Guidelines - Woppaburra Heritage can be reviewed on our website.