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Saltwater People Network

The Saltwater People Network brings together Indigenous people and non-Indigenous partners from across north Australia to share tools, knowledge and skills, and to promote Indigenous aspirations for salt water country management.

Spanning over 4,500 km, the ‘saltwater country’ of north Australia includes some of the most intact coastal and marine habitats in the world. It is one of the last great strongholds for globally threatened turtles and dugongs and supports some the world’s largest mangrove forests, coral reefs and seagrass meadows. It also has one of the most intact traditional Indigenous knowledge-based management regimes on the planet. North Australia has one of the three least human-impacted marine ecosystems in the world.

NAILSMA, the project partners and communities believe that by working together they will contribute to a long term vision of healthy and sustainable populations of dugong and marine turtle that support Indigenous livelihoods across north Australia.

The Saltwater People’s Network, established in 2005 has received funding through the Commonwealth Government’s Caring for our Country Program and Natural Heritage Trust as well as the Christensen Fund.

Why are we involved?

Our Saltwater People Network connects Indigenous Traditional Owners from the Kimberley, Top End of the Northern Territory, southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape York and the Torres Strait. It helps them join forces and develop community-driven approaches to continue their long tradition of managing the fragile marine ecosystems across north Australia.

With on-going strong financial backing and carefully-devised strategies, we will continue to assist sea country managers enhance their watch and spread their unique capabilities even more widely across Australia’s most isolated, unspoiled and vulnerable coastline - a shared legacy of caring for the nation’s wonderful salt water country.

We understand that sound management is not important only for the marine environment. The livelihoods of many Australians and our neighbours also rely on healthy coasts and oceans. We work with a dedicated network of saltwater country managers who undertake a wide range of management, research and monitoring on coastal estates, including:

  • research and surveys of marine species and habitats;
  • surveying and removing marine debris and ghostnets;
  • developing saltwater country management plans;
  • undertaking surveillance and enforcement;
  • participating in search and rescue;
  • protecting marine cultural sites and performing cultural ceremonies.

Want to know more about our Saltwater People Network?

Go to the Saltwater People Network Program on the Information Hub.

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