Recognizing the contribution of Indigenous Protected Areas to marine protected area management in Australia

Jacqueline Gould, Dermot Smyth, Phil Rist, Whitney Rassip, Katie Oxenham

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    Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) are a form of protected area in Australia which are dedicated by Indigenous people over their traditional land and seas. Initially, IPAs were dedicated only over land owned exclusively by Indigenous Australian groups. However, recent years have seen a growing tendency for other tenures, including Sea Country (marine and coastal areas), to be incorporated into IPAs. This paper explores Sea Country IPAs as a grassroots participatory conservation phenomenon being led by Indigenous Australians and as a policy construct. Distinctions between how terrestrial and marine protected areas are handled within Australian policy spaces are explained, as are the innovative collaborative management approaches being developed to draw stakeholders together within the governance architecture of Sea Country IPAs. Three examples are presented to illustrate how Sea Country IPAs operate as Indigenous-led management regimes which draw on varied legal and other effective means, to conserve ecological and cultural resources. In exploring these characteristics of Sea Country IPAs, the paper encourages the marine science, management, and policy communities to engage with Sea Country IPAs and recognize their contributions to marine protected area management in Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-26
    Number of pages21
    JournalMaritime Studies
    Early online date20 Jan 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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