Yolŋu in North East Arnhem announce the dedication of some 450,000 hectares of marine estate surrounding the Gove Peninsula for inclusion in the world renown Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation Indigenous Protected Area.
Original Dhimurru IPA Boundaries
Extended Dhimurru IPA Boundaries 2013
At a memorial ceremony in Arnhem Land in April 2013 Yolŋu Wanga Watangu (Traditional Owners) formally dedicated additional areas of their land and sea country to Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), which now comprises approximately 550,000 hectares. The dedication includes sea country extending 40km out to sea from coastline.
The significant and historic announcement was made in honour and recognition of Mr Yunupingu; friend, mentor and past Dhimurru Senior Cultural Advisor, his many contributions, and his vision of a unified land and sea protected area.
Dhimurru’s Managing Director, Wurrulnga Marika, together with Dhimurru’s Directors, said “we have great pleasure in honouring our old friend, mentor, leader, and founding member Mr Yunupingu. On this important and solemn occasion we are dedicating our manbuynga ga rulyapa, our sea country, as part of the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area.”
The original Dhimurru IPA included sea country encompassing sites of significance in the gapu (sea) and adjacent to the mainland and nearby Islands. In 2006 through Dhimurru, Yolngu launched the Yolnguwu Monuk Gapu Wanga Sea Country Plan explaining Yolŋu interests, rights, and responsibilities in sea country. This initiative started a conversation with Government and other stakeholders talking about how we can look after sea country together and what is needed to make that happen.
A new Dhimurru IPA Sea Country Management Plan (launched 26th May 2013 at the World Indigenous Network Land and Sea Manager’s Conference, Darwin) was developed in collaboration with relevant Commonwealth and NT Government agencies and commercial and recreational fishing stakeholders. It set the stage for industry, Government, and members of the public with interests in these seas to work together with Yolŋu to look after sea country as a “Collaborative Management Zone” incorporated in the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area.
The Management Plan set out how the commitments, authorities and capacities of the collaborating organisations, will be brought together to achieve the shared goals of the IPA through a voluntary governance and management partnership.
The expanded Dhimurru IPA overlaps with the Wessel Commonwealth Marine Reserve, providing opportunities for Dhimurru Rangers to make significant contributions to the management of the Commonwealth Marine Reserve – consistent with Strategy six of the North Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network Management Plan which supports involvement of Indigenous people in management of Commonwealth Marine Reserves. (The map above (right) shows the expanded Dhimurru IPA and its overlap with the Wessel Commonwealth Marine Reserve.)
An IPA is an area voluntarily dedicated by the Wanga Watangu (Traditional Owners) to be managed in accordance with guidelines set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) promoting sustainable use and thereby qualifying as a protected area by international standards. An IPA is not of itself a legal construct but rather it is a mechanism which seeks to enable effective conservation management by legal and other means. By developing partnerships with other agencies such as Parks and Wildlife Commission and Fisheries, an indigenous resource management organisation, in this case Dhimurru, can lead the way in implementing protected area management objectives.