Australian Marine Parks

N. Stacey, South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Report for Environment Australia, 2001.


Crossing borders cover

About this document

The 1974 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Australia and Indonesia was a goodwill attempt to recognise the long-standing interests of Indonesian fishermen in the northern Australian region.

Bajo originating from the villages of Mola and Mantigola in the Tukang Besi Islands, Southeast Sulawesi, are one group of fishermen who have a historic interest in the region and currently operate in and around the MOU area.

This paper examines the effectiveness of the MOU in providing for recognition of indigenous Bajo fishing rights, sustainable marine resource conservation and management, and in curbing illegal Bajo fishing activity in the Australian Fishing Zone.

An analysis of the key concept of “traditional” fishing encapsulated in the 1974 MOU shows it to be problematic with direct and far reaching consequences for Bajo fishermen.

It is argued that until the problems of the MOU are addressed, by way of new arrangements incorporating a more culturally informed inclusive approach with respect to traditional Indonesian fishermen, other Australian policy responses to address illegal activity and marine resource conservation in the AFZ will be undermined.