Abstract:

This report aims to provide a brief overview of marine animal species of importance to Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, including the Gulf of Carpentaria andwestern Cape York (collectively encompassing the North Marine Bioregion), based primarily on a desktop study of readily available written materials. Following this desktop component, information from this review will be considered alongside the outcomes of consultations with Indigenous community members/groups to provide a more comprehensive view of ‘priority’ marine fauna for future research. To effectively inform research and management actions, a complementary purpose in this report (and project more broadly) is to identify local practical responses to species specific research and management needs, articulated through the kind of social and cultural context summarised above. This includes discussion about appropriate principles for engaging Indigenous individuals and organisations in discussion about and research on their country.

This work is part of a broader collaborative research project titled “Scoping a seascape approach to managing and recovering northern Australian threatened and migratory marine species” (herein referred to as ‘the Northern Seascapes project’) being delivered under the Marine Biodiversity Hub of the Commonwealth Government’s National Environmental Science Program (NESP). The project is led by Charles Darwin University (CDU) and involves the Australian Institute of Marines Science (AIMS), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Geoscience Australia.

The purpose of the Northern Seascapes Project is to scope research needs and directions for a 3-year (2018-2020) collaborative, multi-disciplinary NESP Northern Seascape project by synthesising the (albeit preliminary) findings of constitutive scoping components to inform future research strategies and identify future research hotspots. The geographical scope of the project is the North Marine Bioregion, from coastal and estuarine habitats to the edge of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone, and there is a focus on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) listed Threatened and Migratory Marine species (TMMS).

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