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.

In December 2008, the Australian Government under the Caring for our Country initiative, committed $10 million over five years towards the Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program. The program, administered by GBRMPA, engages Indigenous communities located along the Great Barrier Reef in the management and sustainability of the Reef's marine resources.

The program provides an opportunity to enhance the existing work that 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.

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).

GBRMPA fosters Indigenous community engagement through membership on the Authority Board and the Indigenous Reef Advisory Committee, science and management workshops for Traditional Owners, compliance training, monitoring and traditional ecological knowledge projects.