Indigenous Partnerships in The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Liz Wren
Paul Cochran

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area encompasses the sea country of 70 Traditional Owner groups between the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula and Bundaberg, Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) engagement with traditional owners is mandated through legislation and occurs at multiple scales offering a suite of products through the Australian Government’s Reef Plan 2050 to support sea country management.

Traditional Owners’ knowledge and management of sea country provides a vital and distinct part of ongoing efforts to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef. It is important for government agencies and traditional owners to work in partnership to manage sea country in culturally appropriate ways. Support for Traditional Marine Resource Use Agreements (TUMRAs) is continued through the Australian Government’s Reef Plan as one measure that successfully operationalises management and compliance activities through a practical sea country management framework.

Development of UMRAs occurs through a planning process around activities that form part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s native title rights and interests and articulates customs or traditions for the purposes of satisfying personal, domestic or communal needs. May include fishing, collecting, hunting, looking after cultural sites and seascapes, and transferring traditional ecological knowledge.

In Phase two of the Reef Plan Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program, GBRMPA has designed the program to expand the TUMRA and compliance activities, which are now closely linked through a risk assessment approach, continuing to engage through a diversity of capacity-building and enabling actions.

This session will discuss the conditions where compliance under customary authority generates multiple benefits for both adaptive management of the GBR and traditional owners’ aspirations for sea country, and explore the role of risk assessments in developing linkages between Indigenous governance of the GBR and its current broader ecosystem‑management approach.