Sea countries of the south: Indigenous interest and connections within the South-west Marine Region of Australia
Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
Australian Government Department of Environment and Water Resources
© Commonwealth of Australia 2007
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About the report
Indigenous interests in 'sea country' have been maintained by Indigenous peoples in Australia for thousands of years. Within the South-west Marine Region (SWMR), Nunga, Noongar and Yamatji Indigenous peoples have owned and managed this diverse and resource-rich region. While ownership and stewardship continue to be exercised by Indigenous people of the SWMR, Indigenous communities and individuals often do not have access to, or benefit from, these marine resources.
The launch of Australia's Oceans Policy in 1998 and the subsequent creation of the National Oceans Office introduced a platform for the development of integrated bioregional planning within sea country. Indigenous interests and values have been identified as integral to this planning process. Recognition of Indigenous systems of management and protection through the documentation of integrated Indigenous uses and values in sea country is the first step.
This report has examined:
- Indigenous connections with the SWMR
- contemporary and historical Indigenous use of marine resources
- contemporary Indigenous interests and values in the SWMR
- contemporary natural resource and marine management within the SWMR
- native title and its implications in regard to the SWMR
- Indigenous representation and planning structures within the SWMR
- legislative structures impacting on Indigenous connections to sea country within the SWMR, and legislative reform in the area of Indigenous customary fishing in Western Australia and South Australia within the SWMR.
This sea country report notes the numerous state and federal government policy statements in regard to fishing, aquaculture, cultural heritage, native title and environmental management that give voice to Indigenous interests in these areas. Importantly, the report reveals the complexity of Indigenous interests and values in the SWMR and also documents the plethora of programmes and regional management regimes that are currently in place, or being negotiated.