National Indigenous Sea Country Workshop 2012
In May 2012, ninety Indigenous people from around Australia met at Mary River Park in the Northern Territory, to discuss their vision and aspirations for managing sea country.
Convened by the North Australian Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd. (NAILSMA), on behalf of the Australian Government, the Workshop provided an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from around Australia to discuss their aspirations and cultural obligations as Sea Country managers, to explore options for increased Indigenous engagement in Sea Country Management, and to develop and articulate the views of delegates on an appropriate National Indigenous Sea Country Management Framework.
Two publications have been issued following the workshop. They are published under the NAILSMA Knowledge Series and are available for download from this website.
National Indigenous Sea Country Workshop Report compiled by Vanessa deKoninck, Rod Kennett and Paul Josif on behalf of the Indigenous Advisory Committee and the Project Steering Committee. View PDF
Timeline of Significant Events in Indigenous Sea Country Management: 1975 to 2012 by Dermot Smyth. View PDF
A third publication - National Indigenous Sea Country Management in Australia: Towards a National Framework will be published on this website at a later date. It will take as a starting point a background document that was prepared for the workshop to both inform and stimulate workshop discussions. The paper addressed a number of key questions regarding the history, current status, and future of Indigenous sea country management. The paper was drafted by Marjo Vierros (UNU-TKI), with input and oversight from the Project Steering Committee.
During the workshop a number of statements were prepared and endorsed by the participants. These statements include the:
- National Indigenous Sea Country Statement, on aspirations of delegates for sea country in 20 years’ time; View PDF
- Mary River Sea Country Statement;
- Marine Protected Areas Statement;
- Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) Statement; and
- Statement on Fisheries in NSW.
All of the statements can be read in the National Indigenous Sea Country Workshop Report View PDF
Welcome to delegates
The following address is by Joe Morrison CEO, North Australian Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd and Melissa George Chair, Indigenous Advisory Committee
In recent decades, Indigenous people have become increasingly engaged in, and leading the planning and implementation of practical caring for country activities, including through community planning exercises, the growth of community based ranger programs and declarations of Indigenous Protected Areas. Against a backdrop of community action, recent legal determinations have demonstrated a progressive (albeit limited) recognition of Indigenous rights to sea country, including customary fishing rights, co-operative management agreements, and intertidal rights to control access. Together, these and many other developments offer opportunities for enhanced Indigenous livelihoods based on the use and management of sea country and sea resources for future generations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
'Indigenous people have been owners and custodians of the marine and terrestrial environments of Australia for millennia. Since colonisation, Indigenous Australians have articulated, fought and argued for their inherent rights and responsibilities regarding the continual management of their traditional lands and seas.' Joe Morrison CEO NAILSMA
Much work remains to be done however and this National Indigenous Sea country Workshop (Mary River Park, May 2012) provides an opportunity for Indigenous leaders from around Australia to gather and develop a shared vision for a way forward that is informed by practitioners on country. Through presentations, facilitated discussions and focus and break out groups, delegates will explore and develop a nationally consistent policy and action plan for engaging and advancing the management (including protection, research and monitoring) of sea country by Indigenous Australians.
Indigenous Australians have travelled a long way in asserting their rights to own and manage their lands and seas and history shows that gatherings such as this sea country workshop have played pivotal roles in consolidating success and in identifying collective way forward for us to manage our country, our way. Now is the time to work together to develop a sea country pathway, that reflects our views and aspirations.
Accordingly, we welcome all delegates to the 2012 National Indigenous Sea country Workshop and thank you for the knowledge, wisdom and insight you bring to the meeting.