An ethnobiological study of the usage of marine resources by two Aboriginal communities on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula, Australia

Smith, Andrew John (1987) An ethnobiological study of the usage of marine resources by two Aboriginal communities on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula, Australia. PhD thesis, James Cook University of North Queensland.

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Abstract

This thesis considers the role of contemporary Aboriginal marine ethnobiological knowledge and practices in Western biology and resource management, with specific reference to Aborigines living on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula, Australia. The historical and current marine hunting and fishing practices, and the ethnobiological knowledge of tropical marine food resources of Hopevale and Lockhart River Aboriginal communities are documented. There is also an applied objective which dictated both the communities chosen and the focus of the study: to provide the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) with recommendations that could be used in the development of a management programme for the usage of marine resources in areas of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) adjacent to Aboriginal communities; with special reference to the management of Aboriginal hunting of dugongs (Dugong dugon) and sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata).

In comparison to the marine biological information Johannes (1979b, 1980, 1981b) acquired in Palau, the information obtained from Hopevale and Lockhart River lacked detail. To account for these differences I have employed Goodenough's notion of the culture pool and identified factors influencing Aboriginal marine environmental knowledge. In considering these factors I have developed the concept of a continuum of ethnobiological knowledge through different communities/societies.

Different ethnobiological research strategies for Aboriginal communities are discussed. The strategy used should be based upon careful consideration of the objectives to be achieved and the communities involved. I argue projects with a biological orientation should focus on topics in a number of Aboriginal communities, while those with specifically management orientated objectives will require careful consideration of the problems to be addressed prior to determining the appropriate research strategy.

The history of dugong management by GBRMPA at Hopevale is summarised, and the major management problems and their origins are discussed. The combined dugong harvest by Aboriginal hunters from Hopevale and Lockhart River is substantially less than the estimated sustainable yield, based on recent dugong population estimates. The present traditional harvest per se is unlikely to be damaging the dugong population in the northern GBRMP region. However, due to the dugong's low reproductive rate, it will be at least a decade before aerial surveys will be able to confirm the status of the dugong population. Therefore, a conservative management policy for dugongs is recommended while acknowledging the rights of Aboriginal hunters. The problems experienced by GBRMPA in managing Aboriginal dugong hunting at Hopevale were used to evaluate potential difficulties for GBRMPA in attempting to manage Aboriginal turtle hunting. The management of a resource exploited by people with a different cultural perception of that resource, can successfully occur (as appears to be currently happening at Hopevale and Lockhart River) when the authorities concerned are willing to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability in their management programmes.

Item ID: 33712
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Aborigines; Cape York; Hopevale; Lockhart River; hunting; dugongs; turtles; chelonian; eretmochelys; evironmental management; resource management; traditional knowledge
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2014 01:15
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 70%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 60%
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