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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Federal Member for Wannon
The Hon. David Hawker MP

29 April 2005

Aboriginal 'sea country plan' a national first

A natural resource management plan over land that includes perhaps the world's oldest aquaculture sites has been launched as part of the Australian Government's first Indigenous "sea country plan".

The Kooyang Sea Country Plan identifies management priorities for south-western Victoria, including more than 700ha in Indigenous Protected Areas and is the first cooperative sea country plan to be developed nationally under the Australian Government's regional marine planning program.

The Plan was developed with the joint efforts of Indigenous communities in south-west Victoria and the Australian Government as part of Australia's first regional marine plan, the South-east Regional Marine Plan, released in 2004.

The Plan was produced by the Framlingham Aboriginal Trust and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation with funding from the Australian Government through the National Oceans Office.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the Kooyang Sea Country Plan was the result of positive cooperation between the Australian Government and Indigenous people in Western Victoria with benefits for the environment.

"This plan shows the Australian Government has recognised the traditional needs of Victorian Aboriginal communities, particularly their history of sustainable fishing," Senator Campbell said.

Member for Wannon, Mr David Hawker MP, officially launched the plan, stating the environmental health of the area was testament to the responsible management of its natural resources by many generations of Aboriginal inhabitants.

"Indigenous communities are key participants in regional marine planning and we hope the level of engagement achieved for the Kooyang Sea Country Plan will set the example for Aboriginal communities throughout the country," Mr Hawker said.

An interesting but little-known feature of the Maar people's management of the area is the traditional trapping, harvesting and trading of migratory eels that travel from spawning grounds, believed to be in the Pacific islands, to the river systems of eastern Australia. European settlers in the region were surprised to discover Aborigines used stones to build complex traps, channels and holding areas, many of which are intact today.

The launch of the Plan will be held today on the site of one of the eel aquaculture sites at Tooram Stones Homestead at Allansford, near Warrnambool.

Please note there will be an opportunity to take vision and still shots of short-finned eels and interview Mr Hawker MP at a traditional aquaculture area following the launch.

Media contacts:
Renae Stoikos (Minister Campbell's office)   02 6277 7640

Commonwealth of Australia