The Marine Biodiversity Hub is committed to improving the capacity of the marine research community to engage Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in coastal and marine research. Successful engagement features partnerships based on respect, trust, reflection and knowledge sharing.
Click a location on the map below to find out more . . .
As well as partnering through our research projects, since 2016 we have championed and sponsored annual Indigenous workshops at Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) conferences to raise the profile, share successes and identify pathways to meaningful research collaboration. Here is a collection of projects and publications relating to the Hub’s collaborative sea country research.
First national-scale snapshot of how marine researchers engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Australian marine scientists demonstrate positive aspirations to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in research. Many scientists are unsure about where the responsibility for engagement lies, however, and what research is of interest to Indigenous communities.
These are key findings of a Hub study that surveyed 128 marine scientists to understand how they had engaged with Indigenous communities during their research careers. The survey has established a baseline for monitoring future changes in the scientists’ motivations, perceptions and practices.
- 2019 AMSA Workshop Summary (report)
- Promoting partnerships for Sea Country Research and Monitoring in Western Australia: a snapshot of Indigenous, science and management agency partners (report)
- 2017 AMSA Indigenous Engagement Workshop Summary (report)
- 2016 NMSS-AMSA Conference - Indigenous engagement panel discussion (report)
- Cross-Tasman panel to strengthen Indigenous voice in future marine science partnerships (story)
- Sea country research: exploring successes and challenges in Indigenous engagement (story)
Project A1 – Northern Australian hotspots for the recovery of threatened euryhaline species
Australia’s northern rivers and estuaries are important to sustaining threatened sawfish and river shark species. Indigenous ranger groups and Marine Biodiversity Hub scientists are collaborating in enduring partnerships to conduct field research, exchange knowledge, and develop educational materials including videos, signage and handling protocols.
Working together, the Malak Malak Ranger Group and scientists have successfully relocated more than 60 Largetooth Sawfish. They are also collaborating to learn more about the connectivity of threatened Speartooth Shark (Glyphis glyphis) populations.
- Making art, videos, signs and steps to save sawfish in Australia's northern rivers (story)
- Largetooth Sawfish prove elusive on the Daly River floodplain (story)
- Tagging sharks amid crocs in the Top End (story)
- Every sawfish counts: rescuing Largetooth Sawfish in the Daly River (story)
- Save a Sawfish (video)
- Tyemirerriny: looking after Daly River Sawfish (video)
Project A5 – Defining connectivity of Australia’s hammerhead sharks
Since December 2016, a Hub team has been tagging hammerhead sharks and tracking how they move through northern Australian waters. Indigenous rangers from the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, Yuku Baja Muliku, and Yirrganydji Traditional Owners have joined tagging expeditions in Queensland. An initial review of Indigenous knowledge and cultural values relating to hammerhead sharks identifies them as powerful totem species in some regions, and notes that future projects should consider including questions that Traditional Owners also have regarding these species.
- Indigenous knowledge and cultural values of hammerhead sharks in Northern Australia (report)
- Young hammerhead sharks like staying close to home (story)
- Northern Australia Hammerhead Shark Tagging Program update (fact sheet)
Project A8 – Exploring the status of Australia’s sea snakes
As part of this project, Hub scientists are working with the Anindilyakwa Land and Sea Rangers to survey seasnakes in the Marine Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) around Groote Eylandt, including establishing and maintaining an acoustic array. Surveys in the IPA will help us understand whether protected areas adjacent to heavily fished grounds provide refuge for culturally important and conservation priority species, including seasnakes regularly caught as fishery bycatch in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Knowledge from Sea Rangers is helping to target data collection, and the rangers are learning to collect scientific data about sea snakes and other culturally important species.
Project A12 – Australia’s northern seascape: assessing status of threatened and migratory marine species
In the context of developing Northern Australia, this project is assessing what is known about threatened and migratory species and related habitats, pressures and Indigenous priorities across the North Marine Bioregion. The project included a review of marine animal species of importance to Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, including the Gulf of Carpentaria and western Cape York. The review will be considered alongside consultations with Indigenous community members and groups to help prioritise marine fauna for future research, and potentially engage Indigenous individuals and organisations in discussion about, and research on, their country.
A relationship is being established with Indigenous community members at the Garig Gunak Barlu Cobourg Marine Park, which encompasses a high diversity of shark and ray species.
- Desktop review of Indigenous research and management priorities for threatened and migratory species (report)
Project E6 – Assisting restoration of ecosystem engineers through seed-based and shoot-based programs in the Shark Bay World Heritage Site
The Shark Bay World Heritage Site is unique globally for its natural values, including stromatolites, seagrass meadows and marine megafauna including dugongs, sharks, turtles, and dolphins. It is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In this project, scientists and the Shark Bay Malgana Indigenous community have discussed a collaborative approach to seagrass seeding and shoot planting. An immediate goal would be to assist recovery of the dominant seagrasses, Amphibolis antarctica and Posidonia australis following the 2011 marine heat wave.
Project B4 – Underpinning the repair and conservation of Australia's threatened coastal-marine habitats
Shellfish reefs and saltmarshes are vital to the health of Australia’s bays and estuaries, but have declined due to historical overfishing, coastal development and activities such as intensive agriculture. Restoration efforts have begun in in many locations, with the promise of significant benefits. Larger-scale restoration, however, hinges on increasing awareness and involvement of governments, businesses and communities. As part of this road to restoration, we have taken steps to engage with and learn from Traditional Owners. These included a workshop with 21 Traditional Owners to capture their best advice about how to engage with them for successful shellfish restoration projects.
- Seven pearls of wisdom: advice from Traditional Owners about how to improve engagement of local Indigenous people in shellfish ecosystem restoration (research paper)
- Traditional Owners shellfish restoration workshop - Bribie Island 2017 (video)
The Hub’s Indigenous engagement and Participation Strategy provides guidance to Hub researchers as they seek to integrate Indigenous aspirations and outcomes in the development, implementation and communication of their projects.