Traditional use of the Marine Park

For thousands of years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have sustainably used the natural environment and its resources for cultural and economic purposes. Today Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people have a right to continue their cultural practices within their own sea countries in the Marine Park.

Traditional use of marine resources is the undertaking of activities as part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's cultures, customs or traditions, for the purpose of satisfying personal, domestic or communal needs. Traditional use of marine resources activities may include:

  • fishing
  • collecting (for example shellfish)
  • hunting
  • looking after cultural and heritage sites

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people undertake traditional use of marine resources activities to:

  • educate younger generations about traditional and cultural rules, protocols, practices and activities on sea country
  • practice their living maritime culture
  • provide traditional food for families

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003 recognises that under section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993, native title holders may undertake traditional use of marine resources in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Traditional use activities in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are managed under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.

And important objective for Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islander people and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is to ensure that these traditional activities are done at sustainable levels Reef wide.There are also many threats to marine animal and resources, such as coastal development, habitat degradation, boat strikes, netting, sedimentation and pollution, and we need to address them collectively.

More information on managing traditional use of marine resources, including traditional hunting, can be found in the publication 'A Reef-wide framework for managing traditional use of marine resources in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.'