Managing Sea Country in Australia’s Coral Sea Marine Park
In October 2018, Parks Australia staff and researchers from James Cook University visited Ashmore and Boot Reefs with Meriam traditional owners from Mer Island in the Torres Strait.
The reefs are located in the far north of the Coral Sea Marine Park and are part of the Meriam people’s sea country.
The voyage and visit to the Mer Island community were completed as part of our ongoing work studying the health of the marine park’s coral reefs, and the project is the most extensive coral reef research ever undertaken in this marine park.
A strong aspect of our marine parks management approach is a commitment to working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to better understand cultural values in Australian Marine Parks. The visit offered park managers and researchers an opportunity to work alongside local traditional owners to develop a shared understanding of these remote, rich reef systems.
On Mer Island, the community shared stories about their connections with the reefs, and discussed their ideas for research and management opportunities while two of the Meriam traditional owners joined researchers on the voyage and were involved in the reef surveys.
Parks Australia’s Senior Marine Park Officer for the Coral Sea, Andy Warmbrunn, spent three days on Mer Island interviewing and filming elders to highlight the importance of sea country to the community.
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