Over recent decades, Indigenous Australian Traditional Owners (TOs) have increasingly asserted their responsibilities for and authority to manage their land and sea Country through the formation of Indigenous ranger groups. This Postdoctoral Research Fellowship is a collaboration between the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and CDU, which aims to undertake research which supports Traditional Owners’ (TO) and Indigenous Ranger groups’ capacity to implement TO-led management of Sea Country. A range of projects have been undertaken to date, including:
• Bardi Jawi Sea Country Planning: consultations with TOs of the Bardi Jawi Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) and the Bardi Jawi Rangers, to identify and map sea country values to inform sea country planning and the development of a Marine Protected Area zoning scheme.
• Mapping Makarda: collaborative project with AIMS and the Anindilyakwa Land Council to draw together scientific and Indigenous knowledge of the marine environment around the Groote Archipelago.
• Cultural Mapping of the Yirralka IPA: detailed cultural mapping work with TOs and Rangers in northern Blue Mud Bay, to facilitate informed decision making and the development of a visitor management strategy for fishers, in line with TOs cultural and legal authorities over Sea Country.
• Crocodile Islands IPA Planning and Consultations: consultations with Rangers and TOs to identify management priorities; prepare a Plan of Management; establish and document TO consent for the IPA; develop protocols with neighbouring ranger groups regarding shared management areas; consult with external stakeholders and coordinate government recognition of the IPA.
• Djelk Sea Country IPA Dedication: stakeholder engagement, coordination with government, and preparation of a Sea Country IPA Management Plan, to support the dedication of the Djelk Sea Country IPA.
• Yirralka IPA Stage 2 Dedicationn: engagement with marine stakeholders in in preparation for the formal dedication of the marine components of the Yirralka Stage 2 IPA, and coordination of government recognition of the IPA.
The remainder of the Fellowship is focused on consolidating learnings from these projects, to explore how policy and practice can be improved so that marine management across Australian jurisdictions can be undertaken under the leadership of Traditional Owners and their Ranger groups.