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.
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.
In 2004 the National Oceans Office became a branch of the Department of the Environment and Heritage. This creates an opportunity for the SWMR plan and regional Indigenous sea country plans to be supported and strengthened under s.306 of the regulatory framework of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act). This report is a literature review that reveals opportunities available to DEH in utilising the strength of these regulatory frameworks to engage with Indigenous peoples in effective marine planning.
Clements, J, Kelly, G, Kinnane, S, Oxenham, D, Pardoe, C, Strelein, L, Taylor, P and Veth, P 2006, ‘Sea countries of the south: Indigenous interests and connections within the South West Marine Region of Australia,’ report for the National Oceans Office, June 2006.