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GBRMPA: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage strategy for the Reef open for public comment
Keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage of the Great Barrier Reef strong, safe and healthy is the goal of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s latest action-based initiative.
Now open for comment, the draft Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Strategy for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was developed in partnership with more than 20 Traditional Owner groups.
Proposed actions in the draft strategy aim to increase understanding of Indigenous heritage values in the Great Barrier Reef and set out how the Authority will partner with Traditional Owners to protect these values.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority General Manager Dr Simon Banks encouraged feedback on the draft strategy.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the Traditional Owners of the Reef and we value working with Traditional Owners to manage this great natural icon,” he said.
“The draft strategy is a significant step in honouring the knowledge and value of Traditional Owner connections to the Reef.
“Indigenous heritage values of the Reef are irreplaceable — this draft strategy takes our partnership to a new level and we’re interested in feedback on the proposed actions.”
Indigenous Reef Advisory Committee Chair and Traditional Owner Phil Rist welcomed the initiative.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have cared for the Reef for thousands of years,” Mr Rist said.
“We have a lifelong physical, cultural and spiritual connection to our land and sea country. We have a responsibility to our ancestors and our next generation to protect our values in the Reef.
“We welcome management agencies taking action to recognise how important this is and look forward to working in equal partnership with the Marine Park Authority.”
More than 80 Traditional Owners from Cape York to Bundaberg contributed to the strategy’s development over seven different workshops.
The draft strategy is open for public consultation for two months until 26 April 2018. Input will inform the final Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Strategy.
There are more than 70 Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Traditional Owner groups who for thousands of years have been associated with the Great Barrier Reef region and its natural resources.
The groups that express connections to Marine Park are situated along the Queensland coast from the Torres Strait Islands in the north to near Bundaberg in the south.
Indigenous heritage covers everything in sea country important to Traditional Owners — for example, significant sites, fish traps and intangible values such as songlines and language.