Indigenous Traditional Owners (TO) have been managing the Great Barrier Reef for thousands of years. The perspectives of TOs are critical to the current and future management of the Great Barrier Reef, especially in the restoration space.

Duane Fraser, a Wulgurukaba man from Magnetic Island off Townsville, sits on the NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub’s Steering Committee, and will be presenting Indigenous perspectives on reef restoration at the Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium.

“Traditional Owners have been living and operating on the Great Barrier Reef for thousands of years,” Mr Fraser said.

“Degradation of the health of the Great Barrier Reef has had critical impacts on the lives of sea country traditional owners, not just on the loss of fish stocks but also through their spiritual connection to place – that emotional relationship degrades along with the health of the system.

Traditional Owners both face barriers and are presented with opportunities in the restoration space, said Mr Fraser.

“A lot of Great Barrier Reef sea country Traditional Owners haven’t been able to develop the skills or institutions to engage meaningfully in the restoration space, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to,” he said.

“Traditional Owners are key management partners on the Great Barrier Reef, and we need to understand the bio-cultural implications of restoration activities. If you’re to accept the spiritual connection of place and Traditional Owners, we must accept the potential implications of intervention activities like coral relocation.

“There are already lots of Traditional Owners active in the Great Barrier Reef management space. If the intent is to set up a restoration industry, we should be involving Traditional Owners at every step of the process, because they are on the forefront of this issue.”

Duane will speak on Monday 16th July at 11.40am in the Urchins Ballroom.




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