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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

5 August 2006

Indigenous partnership plan for northern 'sea country'


A plan by a northern Australian Indigenous group to assist in marine surveillance and conservation of endangered species has received Australian Government support.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said the Government would assist with the publication of the Dhimurru Sea Country Plan, which identifies opportunities for cooperation in marine and coastal management using traditional knowledge and contemporary science.

"This plan is consistent with the Government's approach to working with Indigenous people to address both community concerns and Government objectives," Senator Campbell said.

"The Yolngu people occupy a remote and isolated stretch of north-east Arnhem Land coastline, which presents opportunities for both Indigenous communities and the Australian Government.

"The plan identifies an opportunity for more formal surveillance arrangements for this remote coastline, which is increasingly important to combat the threat of illegal fishing.

"The Yolngu people and the Government are equally committed to marine conservation and the plan identifies opportunities to assist in the management of endangered species such as dugong and marine turtles.''

The Dhimurru Sea Country Plan also identifies areas in which the Government can work with Yolngu people to reduce marine debris such as 'ghost nets' - abandoned and drifting nets - which are responsible for the deaths of marine turtles and many other species.

The plan calls for the engagement of both the Australian and Northern Territory Governments as well as non-government interests in the future management of marine and coastal areas for which Yolngu people have custodial responsibilities.

The Australian Government has contributed a total of $100,000 to the Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation for the development and publication of the plan, through the Department of the Environment and heritage and the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination.

The Northern Land Council contributed a further $20,000.

The Dhimurru Sea Country plan will be launched at the Garma Festival, north-east Arnhem Land, today. It is downloadable online at http://www.dhimurru.com.au/

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640

Commonwealth of Australia