Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

The Hon Warren Snowdon MP

Member for Lingiari

Traditional owners lead collaborative marine management

Media release
26 May 2013

The Australian government today welcomed the decision by Yolngu Traditional Owners from north-east Arnhem Land to dedicate an additional area of culturally significant sea country in Northern Territory and Commonwealth waters as part of the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area.

"The expansion of the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area will help to strengthen Indigenous knowledge, ceremonies, stories and cultural practices for the benefit of future generations, complementing the current management by Commonwealth and Northern Territory agencies ", Mr Burke said.

"Yolngu traditional owners have long held the view that their traditional land and sea estates are inseparable and that they must be managed in a coordinated way. The traditional owners and the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation are to be commended for all of their hard work."

The Australian Government's support for this initiative was announced at the World Indigenous Network conference in Darwin an event that recognises and celebrates Indigenous cultural traditions and knowledge and the value of marrying these traditions with best available science.

The Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area now includes over 135,000 hectares of land and more than 400,000 hectares of sea country. It covers a sea country zone up to 40 km seaward from the coast as well as extending westward to include complete river catchments, enabling whole of catchment management. The Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area was originally dedicated by the Yolngu Traditional Owners and managers in 2000.

The eastward expansion has been negotiated as shared management zones between Dhimurru and neighbouring traditional owners. The inclusion of additional sea country has been negotiated and planned in consultation with government agencies and organisations representing commercial and recreational fishers.

Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon paid tribute to the long term commitment and cultural integrity of the Yolngu people of the Gove region.

"They have worked for more than a decade to forge the collaborative partnerships needed, including those with the fishing industry and recreational fishers, to make this expansion of sea country a reality" Mr Snowdon said.

"These partnerships and collaborative arrangements will see the integrated management of land and sea environments, which contain many sites and species of cultural significance additional to important biodiversity or ecological values. Part of the expanded Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area overlaps with the Wessel Commonwealth Marine Reserve, which will strengthen the management of that Reserve," Mr Snowdon said.