Background of the TUMRA framework
For Traditional Owners, the spiritual relationship with country has been compared to the relationship one has to family; meaning it is a relationship to be loved, nurtured, cared for and above all, respected (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 2007, 3).
The Indigenous Land and Sea Country Partnerships Program is a $20 million investment in Traditional Owner management of the Great Barrier Reef. The program was created to provide resources and funds for the development and implementation of TUMRAs, such as the Mandubarra TUMRA.
Under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003, a new framework was established to separate different 'zones' of sea country so they can be used for specific purposes. The new framework complements existing community-based measures developed by Traditional Owner Groups to protect marine life while ensuring entitlements enshrined in the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) are recognised. The new framework replaces old zoning plans and gives more power to Traditional Owners in managing the reef's resources (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 2007, 5).
Under the previous approach, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the agreement area were able to undertake traditional activities like fishing, collecting, and hunting in the marine park (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 2007, 6). In negotiating the Mandubarra TUMRA, the Mandubarra Traditional Owners wanted to develop and manage their own community-based plans for preservation of the reef and its endangered species, in the face of increased tourism and commercialisation.
Details of the Mandubarra TUMRA
The Mandubarra TUMRA was developed under the Reef Rescue Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program, which was designed to enable the creation of TUMRAs that provide guidelines for equal negotiations.
The Mandubarra TUMRA was developed to provide sustainable outcomes for Traditional Owners and community members while increasing knowledge about cultural preservation of the Great Barrier Reef and its threatened species.
Prior to the Manubarra TUMRA, the Traditional Owners faced complex challenges in protecting the reef and its species, especially because they live adjacent to the most urbanised, commercial, and tourism-based area of sea country (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Traditional Use of Marine Resource Summary). To address this challenge, the Mandubarra TUMRA implements various restrictions on tourist and traditional activities in the agreement area (Mandubarra TUMRA Aspirational Statement). Turtles, dugongs, and seabirds are protected throughout their nesting season under a turtle monitoring program and a marine animal stranding program (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Celebrating a new sea country agreement, 1).
The Mandubarra Traditional Owners are committed to caring for their country, passing on knowledge and culture, and protecting sacred sites. They oversee the management of the reef, Junior Rangers Program, Marine Animal Stranding Program, and a Turtle Nesting Monitoring Program as part of their responsibility to their ancestors, children, and culture (Mandubarra TUMRA Aspirational Statement). With funding from the Indigenous Land and Sea Country Partnerships Program, an Indigenous rangers program allows Traditional Owners to tutor young adults in the practices of custodianship, responsibility, caring for sea country, and managing the reef (Brad Appo, Mandubarra Traditional Owner).
The Mandubarra Traditional Owners maintain collaborative partnerships with neighbouring groups and organisations to enable the effective management of sea country, including:
- Queensland Government;
- Queensland Government Investment Portal (DNPSR);
- Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service;
- James Cook University;
- Terrain Natural Resource Management;
- Biosecurity (Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries); and
- Neighbouring Traditional Owners and Indigenous corporations.
In accordance with the Mandubarra TUMRA, the hunting of turtles, dugong and seagrass is not allowed by tourists or Traditional Owners in the agreement area. While Mandubarra Traditional Owners can legally take turtles and dugong by exercising their rights under s 211 of the Native Title Act 1993, they have chosen to prohibit this activity (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Celebrating a new sea country agreement, 1).
Mandubarra TUMRA area
The Mandubarra TUMRA includes the coastal waters immediately to the south of Mourilyan Harbour to Maria Creek, Kurrimine Beach, Cowley Beach, Linguist Island, Bresnahan Island, Hutchinson Island, Jesse Island, Kent Island, South Bernard, Stephenson Island and Sister Island.
The agreement area is divided into eight zones, each designed to obtain and preserve a different goal: (a) the General Use Zone; (b) the Habitat Protection Zone; (c) the Conservation Park Zone; (d) the Buffer Zone; (e) the Scientific Research Zone; (f) the Marine National Park Zone; (g) the Preservation Zone; (h) the Commonwealth Islands Zone.