Since time immemorial, Traditional Owners have interwoven their culture and spirituality with the Great Barrier Reef (the Reef).
There are some 70 Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal clan groups who remain connected to their land and sea country and have stayed strong in their culture.
The Marine Park Authority and Traditional Owners are working together to integrate modern marine park management and traditional knowledge to protect this irreplaceable iconic World Heritage Area.
A major partnership over the past decade has been through the Indigenous Land and Sea Country Partnerships Program, a $20 million investment in Traditional Owner management of the Reef.
The program provided resourcing to support the development and implementation of Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements (TUMRA’s).
Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements are community-based plans for management of traditional resources which are accredited in legislation and have proved a successful mechanism for joint management of the Reef.
Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements describe how Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owner groups work in partnership with the Australian and Queensland governments to manage traditional use activities on their sea country.
Each Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements has a committee to manage the agreement and traditional use of marine resources in their sea country, including traditional take, if any of important species such as dugongs and turtles. Their management of traditional use is based on both cultural lore and contemporary science and are also used for broader sea country planning and management.
In the past 10 years, the area of sea country covered by Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements has successfully doubled with the joint partnerships building a level of trust and knowledge previously unprecedented on the Reef.
The number of Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements has increased from 4 to nine — plus an Indigenous Land Use Agreement — covering eighteen Traditional Owner groups.
Today, over 25 per cent of the Marine Park coastline is managed under a these agreements.
Significantly, the program has strengthened partnerships between Traditional Owners and government, with some using their Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement to encourage external partnerships and investment. The program is a major contributor to the outcomes of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Strategy for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which sets out how the Authority will work with Traditional Owners to keep Indigenous heritage strong, safe and healthy.
We look forward to the next decade and beyond of increasing co-management, as we deepen our relationships with Traditional Owners to keep sea country strong, safe and healthy.
View map of Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreements