Traditional Owner connections to sea country
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef Region and evidence of their sea country connections goes back over 60,000 years. Today there are approximately 70 Traditional Owner clan groups whose sea country includes the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners and acknowledges their continuing social, cultural, economic and spiritual connections to the Great Barrier Reef region.
GBRMPA also recognises that establishing an effective and meaningful partnership with Traditional Owners is essential to protect cultural and heritage values, conserve biodiversity and enhance the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.
On 27-29 August, GBRMPA hosted a Saltwater Women’s gathering a two day event on Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) where regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owner women met to express themselves as owners of their sea country about their cultural responsibilities, while also broadening community and management perspectives.
In December 2008, the Australian Government under the Caring for our Country initiative, committed $10 million over five years towards the Reef Rescue Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program. The program, administered by the GBRMPA, engages Indigenous communities located along the Great Barrier Reef in the management and sustainability of the Reef's marine resources.
The Reef Rescue Program provides an opportunity to enhance the existing work program that the GBRMPA has in place for sustainable traditional use of marine resources, Indigenous tourism, sea country research and education, cultural heritage initiatives, sea country planning and Marine Park compliance matters.
The GBRMPA is collaborating with Traditional Owner groups to develop a suite of sea country management arrangements including Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements (TUMRAs) and Marine Park Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs).
During October GBRMPA held a three day Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements (TUMRA) Workshop for Traditional Owners involved in implementing or developing a TUMRA. Kuuku Ya'u people who hold a Marine Park Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA), also attended the workshop to share information about their agreement, which is supported under GBRMPA's TUMRA Program. Over 30 Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owners attended.
The GBRMPA fosters Indigenous community engagement through membership on the Authority Board and the Indigenous Reef Advisory Committee (IRAC), Science and Management Workshops for Traditional Owners, compliance training, monitoring and Traditional ecological knowledge projects.
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