Traditional Owners

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.

Artwork recording first contact, Stanley Island.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners and acknowledges the continuing Sea Country management and custodianship of the Great Barrier Reef by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners, whose rich cultures, heritage values, enduring connections and shared efforts protect the Reef for future generations.

The Authority aims to move towards a future where the enduring culture and connection of Reef Traditional Owners with their Sea Country is widely recognised, Indigenous heritage is protected, and we manage the Reef together. Establishing effective and meaningful partnerships with Traditional Owners is essential to protect Indigenous heritage values, conserve biodiversity and enhance the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

Governance of the Marine Park includes Indigenous membership on the Marine Park Authority Board and an Indigenous Reef Advisory Committee.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Strategy for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park outlines how the Authority is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in protecting values and increasing co-management in the Marine Park.

Important contributing programs include the Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement program, Indigenous compliance training, the Authority’s Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan, and Sea Country values mapping.