The Yirrganydji Traditional Use Marine Resources Agreement (Yirrganydji TUMRA) is an agreement made under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act) and the Marine Parks Act 2004 (Cth).
The Yirrganydji TUMRA is between the Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), and the Australian and Queensland governments.
A TUMRA is 'an agreement, developed in accordance with the [Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 (Cth)] regulations, by a traditional owner group, for the traditional use of marine resources in a site or area of the Marine Park' (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003).
Purpose of the Yirrganydji TUMRA
The Yirrganydji TUMRA aims to increase the sustainability of marine animals and resources within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park against threats such as habitat degradation, hunting, and illegal tourist activities. By preventing illegal activities in the marine park and allowing the harvesting of resources for traditional purposes by the Yirrganydji, The TUMRA allows the Yirrganydji People to assume a leadership role in improving social, economic, health, political, and cultural outcomes for the region (Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation, Project Outline).
The TUMRA supports Traditional Owners in maintaining their spiritual and cultural connections to the Cairns and Port Douglas Coast while ensuring their traditional activities is sustainable. The Yirrganydji People believe cultural preservation of the sea country's environment, resources and heritage is a shared responsibility between First Peoples and Governments (Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation, Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement Statement).
Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation
The Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation acts as an agent for the Yirrganydji People of the Yirrgay dialect to perform functions specified under the Native Title Act 1993 in relation to native title, cultural heritage, and land and sea interests.
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 Yirrganydji TUMRA.
Under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003 a new framework was established to segregate 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 required to apply for permits to undertake traditional activities like fishing, collecting, and hunting in the Marine Park (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 2007, 6). In negotiating the Yirrganydji TUMRA, the Yirrganydji Traditional Owners wanted to create a new system where they would have a larger responsibility in managing the reef and no permits would be required for undertaking traditional responsibilities.
Details of the Yirrganydji TUMRA:
The Yirrganydji TUMRA was developed in 2014 with the assistance of the GBRMPA, who at the time, had signed and accredited numerous TUMRA Agreements. The Yirrganydji TUMRA was developed to integrate modern marine management and traditional knowledge to ensure the sustainability of the environment and preserve traditional customs. The TUMRA recognises the Yirrganydji people's right to practice traditional cultural activities in the area and asserts their authority over the management of the Marine Park (Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation, Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement Statement).
To address challenges in protecting the reef, various sea country partnerships and cooperative management arrangements were developed such as the Yirrganydji Land and Sea Ranger Program and the Estuarine Crocodile Monitoring Program (Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation, Projects Summary). The Yirrganydji Land and Sea Ranger Program provides the Indigenous community the opportunity to:
- focus on the conservation, sustainability, and management of the Land and Sea Country;
- undertake a range of activities such as fire management, protection of threatened species, pest plant and feral animal management, visitor management, research, and monitoring cultural habitat management;
- achieve environmental and cultural heritage benefits in the national interest;
- protect the rights and interests of Traditional Owners to maintain a healthy link to their country and resources;
- provide and attain real, long-term jobs and greater economic certainty to individuals;
- provide support, training, and life skills for career pathways;
- strengthen and encourage strong leadership and relationship partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations; and
- achieve positive outcomes in a range of important public policy areas including closing the gap in indigenous disadvantage (Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation, Land Management: Ranger Program).
In accordance with the Yirrganydji TUMRA, the hunting of turtles and dugong is prohibited in the agreement area. While Yirrganydji Traditional Owners can legally take turtles and dugong by exercising their rights under s 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) the Yirrganydji Traditional Owners have chosen to prohibit this activity (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreements Summary).
Yirrganydji TUMRA area
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.