Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

Anindilyakwa IPA

Sea Country Indigenous Protected Areas

What is a sea country IPA? | Case studies, plans and reports

Warul Kawa Island Indigenous Protected Area

(Top) Placid seas near Warul Kawa, Steve

images: (top) Placid seas near Warul Kawa, Steve
Szabo. (left) Migrating Green Turtle, Robert Thorn. (right) Thursday Island community (bottom) Mangroves along the sea, both Steve Szabo.

Indigenous Protected Areas are one of Australia's most successful conservation stories - they protect Australia's biodiversity while providing training and employment for Aboriginal people doing work that they love on their own country.

The Indigenous Protected Areas are helping to close the gap of Indigenous disadvantage, with communities reporting better health, social cohesion and higher school attendance.

For many years, coastal traditional owners have also been actively involved in managing the marine environment of the seas adjacent to their lands, often working with Australia's quarantine service (AQIS), Customs and fisheries departments. When Indigenous landowners decide to declare their lands an Indigenous Protected Area, they agree to manage their country for conservation and to meet international conservation standards.

What is a sea country Indigenous Protected Area?

A sea country Indigenous Protected Area would involve Indigenous people managing Indigenous activities within the marine environment.

A sea country Indigenous Protected Area would also provide a framework for Indigenous communities to work with other groups who have interests in and actively use the marine environment and to allow all stakeholders to work together towards the effective conservation and management in these areas.

No legal implications
There is no legislative basis to the declaration or management of an Indigenous Protected Area. In other words, an Indigenous Protected Area is not established or managed under any Commonwealth, state or territory law. It is a voluntary arrangement.

As Indigenous Protected Areas are voluntary declarations by Indigenous people with no legal basis, they cannot impact on the activities of any non-Indigenous group. Existing laws, regulations and responsibilities would continue to apply in any sea country Indigenous Protected Area - including existing bag limits and fisheries management arrangements.

Decisions about the management of land-based Indigenous Protected Areas are made by Indigenous people over land that they own.

Case studies and plans