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Mixing Waters: A Cross Cultural Approach to Developing Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters in the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area, Australia


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This article demonstrates the importance of indigenous ontologies in cross-cultural or ‘both ways’ coastal conservation management of the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area in north east Arnhem Land, Australia. In this action research, selected Yolŋu individuals identified concerns regarding recreational fishing and boating practices of non-Yolŋu. Yolŋu engaged in a discussion of the issues and the subsequent formulation of indigenous management responses. This led to the development of locally relevant guidelines for fishers and boaters with potentially broader applications in other Indigenous Protected Areas and beyond. We explore the ‘both ways’ approach adopted by the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation that guides collaboration between Yolŋu and non-Yolŋu. We illustrate how the approach facilitates indigenous ontologies to co-create conservation approaches together with contemporary conservation efforts informed by Western science. We further explore the disjunctures and synergies between the two and argue that these mix and can be compatible as part of the ‘both ways’ approach. In learning from this action research, we reflect on the process of cross-cultural learning and the role of researchers in the cross-cultural coproduction of knowledge and the formulation of guidelines for fishers and boaters.
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Indigenous people have long managed and governed the
landscapes they inhabit in order to sustain their
livelihoods and cultures. Conservationists1 are often
drawn to the variety of ecosystems and high levels of
biodiversity maintained within these landscapes.
Increasingly, and in response to a greater appreciation of
interdisciplinary approaches, conservationists seek to
take the interests and knowledge systems of local people
into account by attempting to integrate successful
aspects of traditional knowledge into their contemporary
conservation management (Redford, 2011; Waltner-
Toews et al., 2003). However, they often overlook the
socio-cultural and political context within which they are
embedded and practised (Wilshusen & Brechin, 2011).
Indigenous knowledge is not the same as a ‘separate’
scientific discipline but rather a body of knowledge that
reflects a particular worldview based on its own
ontological premises (Muller, 2012). The failure to put
indigenous ontologies on a par with ‘Western’2
knowledge is increasingly viewed as an underlying cause
for political, economic, religious and educational
inequities and the disempowerment of indigenous
peoples (Hunt, 2013; Verran, 1998). These inequities can
also be seen as a schism between different and, at times,
competing and conflicting worldviews. In the realm of
conservation, the failure to recognize this disconnect is
likely to jeopardize conservation outcomes such as the
protection of biodiversity and ecosystems (Blaser, 2009;
Reyers et al., 2010).
Historically, contemporary conservation approaches
were less concerned with and informed about indigenous
management and governance practices. In particular, the
intangible cultural, spiritual and sacred values that are
an integral part of indigenous ontologies were poorly
This article demonstrates the importance of indigenous ontologies in cross-cultural or ‘both ways’ coastal
conservation management of the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area in north east Arnhem Land,
Australia. In this action research, selected Yolŋu individuals identified concerns regarding recreational
fishing and boating practices of non-Yolŋu. Yolŋu engaged in a discussion of the issues and the subsequent
formulation of indigenous management responses. This led to the development of locally relevant
guidelines for fishers and boaters with potentially broader applications in other Indigenous Protected Areas
and beyond. We explore the ‘both ways’ approach adopted by the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation that
guides collaboration between Yolŋu and non-Yolŋu. We illustrate how the approach facilitates indigenous
ontologies to co-create conservation approaches together with contemporary conservation efforts informed
by Western science. We further explore the disjunctures and synergies between the two and argue that these
mix and can be compatible as part of the ‘both ways’ approach. In learning from this action research, we
reflect on the process of cross-cultural learning and the role of researchers in the cross-cultural co-
production of knowledge and the formulation of guidelines for fishers and boaters.
Key words: Cultural values, traditional knowledge, coastal zone policy, fisheries, Yolŋu Aboriginal, cross-cultural
learning, indigenous protected area.
Bas Verschuuren1*, Matthew Zylstra2, Balupalu Yunupingu3 and Gerard
* Corresponding author:
1 Department of Sociology of Development and Change Wageningen University, Netherlands
2 Sustainability Research Branch, EarthCollective Network, Australia
3 Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation, Northern Territory, Australia
PARKS 2015 Vol 21.1
Verschuuren et al
Figure 1: Satellite view of the expanded Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area. Source: Dhimurru IPA Sea Country Management
Plan 2013-2015, based on: Landsat 5: US Geological Survey 2011, Tablelands Regional Council 2013. Inset left: Map situating
Dhimurru IPA in north east Arnhem Land. Source: Map data © GBRMPA, Google. Inset right: Dhimurru IPA with the 2013 MPA
extension shared with the Commonwealth Wessels Marine Reserve. Source: Dhimurru IPA Sea Country Management Plan 2013
understood and often dismissed on the basis of being
irrelevant to conservation (which mostly took its merit
from Western science). As a result, many Western-
trained conservationists and policy-makers remain
unable or even unwilling to acknowledge the indigenous
ontologies that shape the areas they are required to
manage (Atran et al., 2004; Berkes & Turner, 2006;
Blaser, 2009). This is lamentable given that a growing
body of research shows that indigenous ontologies can be
legitimized within Western scientific approaches;
examples of this are the ‘Two-Eyed Seeing’ in Canada
(Bartlett et al., 2012) and the ‘Two-Ways’ management in
Australia (Hoffmann et al., 2012; Muller, 2012).
However, the legitimization of indigenous knowledge by
Western science should not be considered a precondition
for its utility to conservation or as a prerequisite for
engaging with indigenous groups.
In this paper, we identify some of the ontological
differences between contemporary Western conservation
and the worldviews harboured by the Yolŋu Aboriginal
people of northeast Arnhem Land, Australia and explore
how these may be reconciled. We first explore the history
and meaning of the ‘both ways’ approach (also called two
-ways management) and provide examples of its
application within the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected
Area (IPA). Using the ‘both ways’ process we identify
potential synergies between Yolŋu and non-Yolŋu ‘ways
of doing’ as a basis for finding desired solutions to
fisheries problems identified by Yolŋu. We outline how
we conducted this action research in order to formulate
practical guidelines for recreational fishers and boaters.
The results describe the outcomes of the action research
such as the cultural relevance of species, the problems
and management issues that Yolŋu identified and the
responses they formulated in an effort to create and
manage a common ground for Yolŋu and non-Yolŋu
fishers and boaters. The results also include
ethnographic data on the disjunctures and synergies
between Yolŋu and non-Yolŋu that were encountered
during the research process. The conclusion reflects on
lessons learned in working within the ‘both ways’
approach as part of the process of developing the
guidelines for recreational fishers and boaters.
The term ‘both ways’ originally emerged as a concept
known as ‘two-way schooling’ which referred to drawing
from two separate domains of knowledge derived from
both Yolŋu and Western culture (Harris, 1990). Harris
maintained that ‘Aboriginal people today are increasingly
interested both in being empowered in terms of the
Western world and in retaining or rebuilding Aboriginal
identity as a primary identity’ (Harris, 1990: p. 84).
Later, the ‘both ways’ approach came to signify the
acceptance of a mixing of Western and indigenous
knowledge (Marika et al., 2009). The ‘both ways’
approach has been applied across many areas of Yolŋu
knowledge as well as non-Yolŋu domains. Examples are
scientific disciplines or professions such as education
and teaching (Harris, 1990) nursing, medicine and
healthcare (Kendall et al., 2011) as well as land and sea
management (Ens & McDonald, 2012; Hoffmann et al.,
2012; Marika et al., 2009; Yunupingu & Muller, 2009).
The cultural meaning of the ‘both ways’ approach stems
from the word Ganma: ‘Ganma has many meanings, one
of which is a place where fresh and salt water meet and
mix. The fresh water and the salt water refer to parallel
systems of knowledge’ (Muller, 2012, p. 61). The ‘both
ways’ approach therefore allows for taking an ontological
approach to management issues.
We applied the ‘both ways’ approach in formulating the
Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters. This was carried out
in response to Yolŋu expressing a need to mitigate
impacts arising from fisheries activities occurring on
their traditional land and sea estates, presently situated
within the Dhimurru IPA. The Dhimurru IPA is legally
owned by Yolŋu people under the Northern Territory
Aboriginal Land Rights Act of 1976. Established in 1992,
the Dhimurru IPA, is based on a voluntary management
agreement with the Australian Government (Dhimurru,
2008). A Yolŋu community-owned land and sea
management organization called the Dhimurru
Aboriginal Corporation (referred to hereafter as
Dhimurru) manages the IPA. This is done in accordance
with IUCN Protected Area Category V where the focus of
management is on the interaction between people and
nature, including all relevant cultural and recreational
The total area of the Dhimurru IPA is approximately 920
km2 of which almost 90 km2 consists of coastal waters
(Dhimurru, 2008) that were extended into a much larger
marine IPA in 2013 (Dhimurru, 2013). Given the extent
of coastal areas under management by Dhimurru, it is
not surprising that fishing and boating activities may
affect culturally significant coastal biodiversity and
ecosystems in accordance with Yolŋu law and belief
systems. In order to aid management, Yolŋu believe that
culturally appropriate responses are required in order to
mitigate these impacts and curb the behaviours that
drive them. Importantly, management responses also
need to be embedded within a strategy geared to
sensitizing non-Yolŋu to Yolŋu culture: ‘When ŋäpaki
[non- Yolŋu people] come here …fish and stay on country
Verschuuren et al
we want them to understand our rom [law] and dhäwu
[creation story] so they see it and respect that djalkiri
there [sacred site, also foundation].’ (Yolŋu interviewee,
pers. comm.).
Dhimurru encourages a ‘both ways’ approach to land and
sea management by utilizing both Western and
indigenous knowledge systems and mixing them into a
new and fluid domain. However, the sole management
responsibility remains in the hands of the Traditional
Owners in line with the vision expressed by the Yolŋu
elders (Dhimurru, 2008; Yunupingu & Muller, 2009).
Yolŋu elders state in Dhimurru’s constitution that: ‘We
envisage working together with the Parks and Wildlife
Commission [Northern Territory] 3; we need their help in
making our vision a reality, but the only people who
make decisions about the land are those who own the
law, the people who own the creation stories, the people
whose lives are governed by Yolŋu law and
belief.’ (Dhimurru, 2008: p. 4).
In staying true to its foundations, Dhimurru has been
pursuing the ‘both ways’ approach in order to develop
constructive cross-cultural working relationships with
conservation, government agencies, universities and
other organizations.
Partnerships in the spirit of the ‘both ways’ approach
extend to collaborations with scientists from different
disciplines. For example, anthropologists have mapped
the stories (dhäwu), songs (manikay) and art (miny’tji)
related to the sacred sites (djalkiri) in the Yolŋu coastal
zone (Leo, 2010) and ecologists have investigated and
mitigated the presence of invasive species such as the
Cane Toad (Rhinella marina, formerly Bufo marinus)
(Boll, 2006) and the Yellow Crazy Ant (Anoplolepis
gracilipes) (Hoffmann et al., 2012). Scientists who have
collaborated within the ‘both ways’ framework recognize
its potential in allowing Dhimurru and other indigenous
land management organizations across northern
Australia to effectively combine Yolŋu knowledge and
practices with conservation management and planning
(Christie, 1991; Ens & McDonald, 2012; Hoffmann et al.,
2012). However, experiences of scientists and Yolŋu
struggling with the deeper ontological implications of
working with the ‘both ways’ approach have also been
cited (Muller, 2012).
The Yolŋu, like many Aboriginal people living in the
coastal areas of northern Australia, refer to themselves as
Saltwater People (Drill Hall Gallery & Buku-Larrngay
Fishers enjoying the evening in one of the Dhimurru’s recreational areas © Bas Verschuuren
Mulka Centre, 1999; Williams, 1986). In the Yolŋu
worldview, the land and sea are inextricably linked and
Yolŋu attachment to the sea is just as great as that to the
land (Yunupingu & Muller, 2009). Because of the
absence of a distinct divide between land and sea
environments, sea can be referred to by Yolŋu
interchangeably as sea country, saltwater country or
simply country (McNiven, 2004; Williams, 1986). This
holistic view has its origins in the creation stories and the
Yolŋu law Rom as is illustrated by the following: ‘This
water is saltwater.… And in that water lays our sacred
Law. Not just near the foreshore. We sing from the shore
to where the clouds rise on the horizon.… Everything that
exists in the sea has a place in the sacred songs…
seaweed, floating anemones, turtle, fish etc. The songs
follow them out from the deep water into the
beach.’ (Drill
Hall Gallery & Buku-Larrngay Mulka Centre, 1999).
Like on land, the seabed and the intertidal zone contain
similar Dreaming tracks related to sites of special
cultural significance known as djalkiri sacred sites, all of
which are protected under the Northern Territory Sacred
Sites Act (Northern Territory of Australia, 2013).
Dreaming Tracks are routes walked by Waŋgarr,
ancestral ‘mythological’ beings such as the Rainbow
Serpent, the Dugong, the Groper and the Shark during
the Dreamtime period. These ‘mythological’ beings
created the land, sea and everything in it and they laid
down the Rom for Yolŋu people. The records of their
actions have been passed on over generations through
cultural concepts such as story dhäwu, song manikay, art
miny’tji, and ceremony buŋggul, and are intrinsically
linked to the Yolŋu spiritscape (McNiven, 2004). The
Yolŋu also link social groups through an intricate kinship
system named gurrutu, which are in turn linked to
geographical areas of land and sea country termed Wäŋa
(Williams, 1986).
In Yolŋu ontology, these cultural and spiritual concepts
also link terrestrial and marine environments and have
therefore been incorporated in Dhimurru’s Plan of
Management (Dhimurru, 2008) as well as the sea
country management plan (Dhimurru, 2006, 2013). They
are reflected in Yolŋu perspectives on policy affecting the
intertidal zone as well as the Guidelines for Fishers and
Boaters (Dhimurru, 2010), as the culmination and
output of this research. Indigenous perspectives of law or
policy are often distinguished from those of most
contemporary policy makers whose notions of law are
typically based on state law which in turn is rooted firmly
in colonial law (Marika et al., 2009; Verran, 1998). An
example of this is the public right to navigate versus the
traditional Yolŋu system of asking permission to access
or harvest from sea country in a manner that is cognizant
of its cultural significance, e.g. being mindful of sacred
sites and creation stories. This differentiation is also
expressed in the Dhimurru Sea Country Plan
(Dhimurru, 2006, p. 4): ‘There are inconsistencies
between our rights and responsibilities under our
customary law and those recognised under contemporary
Australian law. We are struggling to have our sea rights
recognised in the same way as our rights on the land are
recognised. While that struggle is continuing, we take
this opportunity to present our plan regarding the use,
conservation and management of the sea.’
However, in a relatively recent ruling, the Yolŋu won
legal recognition over the intertidal zone based on their
intergenerational cultural occupation and spiritual
affiliation with this zone (Federal Court of Australia,
2007). The evidence of Yolŋu ownership and occupation
of the coastal zone was based on dhäwu, manikay and
miny’tji as established and brokered by anthropologists
and recognized by the Federal Court (Barber, 2005;
Morphy & Morphy, 2006).
Research was carried out over two to three month
periods in 2007, 2008, 2009 and a shorter period in
2011. We applied an action research approach using
ethnographic methods, including a review of the
scientific literature and relevant management and policy
documents from sources such as government agency
websites, files made available by Dhimurru and the Buku
-Larrngay Multimedia Art Centre. According to McNiff
and Whitehead (2006), action research is about doing
research through active participation in a dynamic and
evolving reality, whilst being part of an existing
organization. In conducting action research as part of the
‘both ways’ approach, the process was greatly enhanced
by being able to engage in participatory observation and
in-situ learning opportunities when assisting Dhimurru
rangers with land and sea management activities (e.g.
coastal patrols and monitoring, marine debris clean-ups,
ethno-ecological surveys, stakeholder liaison) or
accompanying other Yolŋu on traditional fishing outings.
Interviewees were identified using snowball sampling
and selected according to their role in IPA management
or planning as well as their culturally defined
responsibilities such as the ability to be able to ‘speak for’
sea country (Bernard, 2006). We used free listing
exercises in order to elicit the cultural significance of
species and habitats and semi-structured interviews for
gaining insight into the boating and fisheries-related
issues that Yolŋu perceived to be of concern to sea
country (Bernard, 2006). Semi-structured interviews
were held with 29 informants with an initial interview
Verschuuren et al
guide of 18 questions being used. Three senior Yolŋu
acted as key informants and allowed extensive interviews
in order to facilitate in-depth understanding of the
cultural context, knowledge and the management
implications. This approach assisted with the
triangulation of information in order to understand the
extent to which identified issues were shared across
geographic areas and clan groups (Bernard, 2006).
Validated information was subsequently listed in an
‘issues and management implications matrix’ (see table
1) to allow grouping of the perceived issues and
management implications suggested by the participants.
Guidelines were then developed based on these
groupings, with additional feedback from Yolŋu and non-
Yolŋu staff within the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation.
This action research approach allowed Yolŋu to
participate throughout the full research process (from
design to implementation and analysis) in a way that
guaranteed that their original concerns were addressed.
This approach is also supported by others such as
Denscombe (2010, p. 6) who states that; ‘action research
aims to solve a particular problem in a practical context
and to produce guidelines for best practice’. In our case,
the particular problem is the social-ecological impact on
the coastal zone as perceived by Yolŋu and the best
practice relates to the Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters
that were collaboratively developed for the Dhimurru
Initial results identified the species and areas in the
coastal zone that are important for Yolŋu day-to-day life
and sea country management (see next section).
Subsequent findings were based on Yolŋu perceptions of
fisheries issues and their cultural relevance, such as
impacts on sacred sites, totem animals and creation
stories (see table 1; two left-hand columns). These
concerns were then linked to the management
implications and management responses that Yolŋu and
Dhimurru IPA staff identified (see table 1; two right-hand
These results subsequently formed the basis of the
applied research output which was the Guidelines for
Fishers and Boaters (Dhimurru, 2010). A further
outcome of this action research is evaluative in terms of
reflecting on our roles as researchers in the cross-cultural
process that is part of working within the ‘both ways’
approach underlying the development of the Guidelines
for Fishers and Boaters (see table 2).
The results are presented in the following paragraphs
and should be interpreted with an understanding that all
‘country’ (sea, sky, estuaries, beach etc.), living and non-
living, is important to Yolŋu, and that all aspects come
with a deep sense of cultural and spiritual custodianship,
sacredness and bestow identity upon Yolŋu.
Sea Country Rangers Balupalu Yunupingu (left) and Partick White are on patrol to ensure that fishers have a safe time on the
water and that rocky outcrops, often known sacred sites, are left undisturbed © Bas Verschuuren
Perceived Issues
Cultural Relevance
Management Implications
Speed, Noise and Boat Strikes
Propeller damage to sea
grass in shallow waters.
Affects wild food source
(dugong); Induces a concern or
‘worry’ about the dugong’s well-
Habitat mapping, surveying and long-term
Speed of boats urged to slow down in
indicated areas;
Boat strike of dugong
and sea turtle; Wash-up
of dead or injured
dugong from boat
Affects availability of wild food
source (dugong, turtle) and
harms species considered to be
of sacred or totemic importance.
Regulate boat access and speeding in
indicated areas; Yolŋu to survey for
injured animals.
Noise from outboard
Desecration of sacred sites and
ceremonial areas;
Disruption of tranquil areas
Zoning; no go or sacred zones;
Engage in education and signage.
Boat speed.
Affects availability of wild food
source (dugong, turtle); Harms or
kills species considered to be of
sacred or totemic importance.
Zoning; ‘go slow’ zones;
Impose speed limits;
Engage in education and signage.
Commercial trawling
over sea grass areas.
Affects wild food source
(dugong). Induces concern about
the dugongs and desecration of
sacred sites.
Work with fishers to identify areas of
concern and possible options; Enforce
Sacred Sites Act over Crocodile Dreaming
or other sacred sites.
Associations with plant and animal species are key to
Yolŋu worldviews and cosmologies. Therefore, the initial
phase of the research primarily focused on Yolŋu
traditional knowledge. Yolŋu identified species and
habitats of importance, and seasonal (phenological)
indicators that assist sea country management processes
and practices. During the course of this research, Yolŋu
individuals identified 50 marine species of importance;
however, we believe that this list is not exhaustive.
Species included eight turtles (Miyapunu), one reptile
(crocodile, Baru), two mammals (Djunuŋgayŋu), eight
shellfish (Djiny), one sea urchin (Dharnpa), twenty-two
fish (Guya), four stingray (Gurrtjpi) and four sharks
(Mäna). Yolŋu names have been verified using Barber
When inviting Yolŋu to identify which species are of
importance and why, they mentioned the species’ role in
creation stories (dhäwu) or as a totem animal and, to a
lesser degree, their function as a flagship species in
conservation management. Flagship species are often
species at risk of extinction; they play a key ecological
role and have charismatic appeal in the public domain
(Bowen-Jones & Entwistle, 2002). Yolŋu usually did not
assign flagship status to a species, with the exception of
sea turtle and dugong (Dugong dugong) which Yolŋu
know enjoy (inter)national interest and also have
prominence in Dhimurru’s nature conservation projects:
‘We know all the fish and this country, we sing them.
That Miyapunu [sea turtle]… …we also hunt. So ŋäpaki
[non-aboriginal person] like that Miyapunu too, he
worries! We go [satellite] track that Miyapunu with Rod
[a sea turtle researcher], it goes all the way to
Queensland!’ (Yolŋu interviewee, pers. comm.).
Many recreational fishers also view sea turtles and
dugong as important and express willingness to assist
with their conservation. These species become an ideal
vehicle for educating both Yolŋu and non-Yolŋu
recreational fishers about the underlying threats to their
populations and the role that Dhimurru plays in their
conservation. For this reason, turtles and dugong have
been given appropriate attention in the Dhimurru Sea
Country Plan (Dhimurru, 2006, 2013) and also in the
Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters (Dhimurru, 2010).
The importance of a given species is very tightly bound to
Yolŋu culture and examples of cultural values and
appropriate cultural behaviour were also provided: ‘If
someone passes away, [one] cannot catch that fish or
cannot eat octopus as it has a certain relation to them. [It
is also] dependent on your relationship to that
species.’ (Yolŋu interviewee, pers. comm.).
Other factors about individual animals that were
culturally significant are the size of the animal and
whether a female is carrying progeny or not. Specific
species were mentioned for their cultural significance or
particular management concern. The challenge for
Table 1. Perceived environmental issues, impacts, cultural importance and management implications.
Continued overleaf
Verschuuren et al
Table 1. continued
Perceived Issues
Cultural Relevance
Management Implications
Littering and Discards
Plastic bags.
Sea turtle mortality
through becoming
trapped or consuming
plastic bags.
Affects availability of wild food
source (turtle);
Potential mortality of totemic
/sacred species;
A feeling of sadness and worry.
Retail outlets in township shift from
plastic to paper bags;
Beach clean-ups;
Rubbish bins made available.
Discarding fish remains
at boat ramps (after
Discarded fish attract
Discards or waste of any fish
are culturally inappropriate;
Boat ramps are popular
swimming spots for Yolŋu.
Visitor information and education;
Fishing guidelines.
Rubbish at beaches
including ghost nets /
marine debris.
Pollution of the coastal
environment; Incidental
catch of turtle, shark and
dolphins in ghost nets.
Unhealthy Sea Country induces
worry and concern; Affects key
totemic species.
(Community) clean-up activities,
monitoring ghost nets; Media and
public awareness; Lobbying regional &
(inter)national governments.
Commercial fishers
discard sharks after
cutting fins.
Declining shark
population and damage
to breeding populations.
Affects especially the four clans
with ‘Shark Dreaming’ totemic
links; Agitation over ‘waste’ of
species. Induces worry and
Lobby to improve shark fishing
protocols within fishing industry (at
various scales); Enforce Sacred Site Act
over Shark Dreaming/sacred sites.
Access and Recreation
Swimming at specific
sites (at certain times
of the year).
Disturbance of species
behaviour (e.g. believed
that Trevally with roe are
disturbed and leave the
Affects (presence and
populations of) sacred
species and availability of
wild food source.
Visitor information; Education and
signage; Enforcement in recreational
Visitor access to
Trespassing on sacred sites;
Driving over turtle nests or
disrupting turtle nesting;
Leaving garbage and other
waste; Noise pollution.
Desecration of sacred sites;
Culturally inappropriate
behaviour; Frustration and
‘worry’ within the Yolŋu
community; Possible impacts
on key species.
Education and signage; Monitoring and
Restrict access to certain areas.
Anchoring over sacred
sites, coral reefs and
sea grass.
Damage to sacred sites,
coral reefs and sea grass.
Desecration of sacred sites;
Decreasing quality of coral
reef habitat.
Register more sacred sites;
Map sacred sites at sea;
Indicate ‘no go zone’ on maps;
Education and signage.
By-catch: Sea turtles
and crocodile become
caught in commercial
and sometimes
recreational fishers’
Decreasing sea turtle and
crocodile populations (as
well as other less visible
species); Decapitated
crocodiles have been found
floating on the water.
Affects sacred/totemic
Affects wild food source;
Causes agitation amongst
clans with Turtle or Crocodile
Urge fishers to use Turtle Exclusion
Devices (TED) and to check nets
regularly to prevent species (e.g.
crocodile) from drowning.
Turtles become caught
on (discarded)
recreational fishing
(Fatal) injuries to sea turtle
Sacred-totemic species;
Affects wild food source and
the two clans with Turtle
Educate fishers on safe release
procedures; Investigate (and promote)
the use of steel hooks.
Increasing number of
vessels on waterways.
Increased recreational
fishing pressure and illegal
Affects availability of wild
food source reducing
hunting ‘success’; Increase of
impacts on sacred sites.
Encourage adherence to protocols;
Limit access and permits; Enforce boat
registration and tracking; Increase
enforcement patrols.
Difficult to check bag or
catch limits.
Potential overfishing or
illegal fishing; Pressure on
fish stocks.
Feeling of not being in control
of activities taking place on
Yolŋu estates.
Train indigenous enforcement officers;
Increase monitoring capacity.
Indigenous Yolŋu Harvest
Increasing and
traditional (Yolŋu) sea
turtle and dugong
Contributes to pressure
on species populations;
Yolŋu may (over) hunt
species (previously)
considered taboo
according to cultural
Traditional law is not in place
or enforced (particularly for
younger Yolŋu); Reduced
respect for Yolŋu hunting
culture, identity and Dreaming
by non-Yolŋu; Current policies
often inconsistent with
traditional species use.
Monitor and record numbers hunted
within community; Participatory
education of youth by Yolŋu elders;
Reinforce traditional law; Further
develop Both Ways management
approach; Resolve inconsistencies in
modern-day conservation is to be able to effectively
transpose such intimate cultural and spiritual relations
into ecosystem management (Verschuuren, 2012) in
our case the Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters.
Coombes et al. (2014) surpass this notion of
‘transposing’ by reconceptualizing notions of
participation, action and representation by doing
research with indigenous people.
In the second phase of the research, the analysis of issues
of importance to Yolŋu focused on the fishing interests
and activities of predominantly non-Yolŋu recreational
fishers and, to some extent, concerns about commercial
fishers (whose vessels usually but not always operate
further from the coast). Fishing activities were reviewed
and grouped based on the issues identified and observed
by Yolŋu (e.g. such as vessels trawling or anchoring over
sacred sites). Much concern was given to areas where
spiritual values are connected to specific places in the
coastal zone or seabed such as, for example, Shark
Dreaming that covers many square kilometres. Despite
many sacred sites having been registered in an atlas that
commercial fishers are required to consult, prawn
trawlers have in cases been observed operating over
them, thus causing worry and giving rise to concern
among the Yolŋu (Yolŋu interviewee, pers. comm.).
Other issues raised by Yolŋu concern: fishers accessing
sacred outcrops and islands; excessive vessel speed over
sea grass areas and sacred sites; improper discard of fish
Table 2: Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters (adapted from Dhimurru, 2010)
Sea Grass
Slow down: Reduce speed over sea grass areas or preferably avoid them altogether
Reduce noise: Be aware of the effect that motor noise has on marine life
Avoid boat strikes: Keep an eye out for grazing dugong or surfacing turtles
Be thoughtful: Yolŋu are proud of their tradition of harvesting only what they need and using their catch to the fullest.
Remain sensitive to the cultural environment in which marine life is caught and how it is utilized.
Be mindful: When discarding fish carcasses, please do so well away from the boat ramps.
Possession Limits
Comply: Stick to the bag limits recommended by your local fishing club and beware not to exceed personal possession limits
as stipulated by the Northern Territory (NT) Fisheries Act.
Be aware: Do not drop anchor over sea grass or sacred site areas and avoid damage to fragile coral beds. If you are not sure
where these are contact Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation for more information.
Be informed: Seasonal cultural or natural resource management closures may apply to certain areas at times.
Stick to the law: Whether or not you intend to fish, a fishing permit is essential to legalize your access to the intertidal zone
and permits you to fish outside designated Dhimurru Recreation Areas.
Be sure: When you want access beyond the intertidal zone, outside designated recreational Areas. Accessing Aboriginal
Land including offshore islands without an appropriate permit is an offence under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and may
be an offence under the NT Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act.
Be prepared: All permits can be obtained from either the Northern Land Council or Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation
Use your eyes: Dhimurru Sea Rangers are out patrolling to check access permit compliance and looking after Sea Country.
Feel free to record and report any damage to the environment or suspicious and/or unlawful behaviour to them, the
Dhimurru Office, Police or the Northern Land Council.
Give a hand: Recording your catch, e.g. species and size, to your local fishing club helps all of us with ‘both ways’
management in monitoring our resources.
Turtles: If you accidently hook a marine turtle, take a picture and report the catch. Remove the hook or remove the line as
close to the hook as possible and release the turtle back into the sea.
Be responsible: These Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters are in principle voluntary. However, some of the guidance
provided can be enforced under Commonwealth and NT Laws.
Verschuuren et al
and by-catch; the catching of too many or (from a Yolŋu
perspective) undersized fish; and access to the water for
fishers’ vessels (Table 2). Other issues pertained to
increased pressure on sacred animals like the Giant
Trevally or ŋuykal (Caranx ignobilis), Dugong and
various species of sea turtle including the endangered
Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata): ‘You don’t
go there, [to] Gayŋada, ŋuykal [Giant Trevally Dreaming,
known as Twin Eagles in English] when they got the
roe… you know when they have eggs in them, no
swimming, no hunting… we do not disturb them, no one
goes on the water then.’ (Yolŋu interviewee, pers. comm.)
The issues raised in this phase of the research helped
with the identification of the main body of the guidelines.
The third phase of the research focused on Yolŋu
responses to the previously identified management and
policy issues through a ‘both ways’ approach (Table 1, far
right column). The issues were identified on the basis of
what Yolŋu perceived as important, including the extent
to which the issue is understood to affect current, future
or intergenerational well-being. For example, the
aforementioned concern about the Giant Trevally led to
consideration of announcing seasonal closures and
banning fishing activities at nearby situated campsites
and recreational areas from September to November
when Giant Trevally carry roe.
Both Yolŋu and non-Yolŋu interviewees made
suggestions for management (Table 1). These were
primarily related to: the issuing of fishing permits;
imposing speed limits over sea grass and sacred sites; the
development of guidelines for recreational fishers; and
the education of youth through school programmes and
by liaising with amateur fishing clubs and associations.
This latter initiative was well received by management:
‘We [as Dhimurru staff] are interested in the offer of the
[local] Fishing Club to distribute a fishing kit and
information package to school kids. We can then provide
school talks on how to fish in manner that is respectful of
Yolŋu culture and safe. We can distribute the guidance
we are developing and improve collaboration with the
Fishing Club and the schools directly; the problem is
capacity…’ (Non-Yolŋu interviewee, pers. comm.)
The most relevant management implications were either
translated into the Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters or
contributed to making better-informed decisions in day-
to-day management by Dhimurru’s Sea Country Rangers.
The primary purpose of the Guidelines for Fishers and
Boaters is to help alleviate Yolŋu concerns and support
their cultural responsibilities surrounding sea country, as
it relates to activities carried out by non-Yolŋu fishers
and the broader range of stakeholders active within the
coastal zone on Yolŋu land. The main concerns and
issues identified by Yolŋu as being necessary to be
countered through implementing the guidelines have
similarly been translated into concepts easily understood
by recreational fishers (table 2). Each of these issues
were elaborated in clear, polite ‘plain-speak’ language
offering guidance and preventive measures in line with
the rules and regulations governing the Dhimurru IPA.
Since their publication in 2010, the Guidelines for
Fishers and Boaters have been made available through
Cover of the Dhimurru Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters.
Source: Dhimurru Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters
available online:
the IPA permit office, the Dhimurru website4 and local,
specialized shops for fishers. This in itself has resulted in
a reasonable distribution of the guidelines. Several
informants indicated that more could be done to
disseminate and enforce the guidelines more efficiently.
They suggested providing the guidelines as a supplement
with fishing permits and making them available on
related websites and printed materials which fishers
regularly access such as fishing magazines, tide and fish
charts, or other brochures distributed by recreational
fishing and indigenous organizations. Such efforts are
part ‘both ways’ collaboration and provide an avenue for
sensitizing non-Aboriginal people about Yolŋu ways of
life. Making the Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters
available was seen as an important step towards
changing the fisher and boater behaviour and is
consistent with the approach set out in the Dhimurru Sea
Country Plan (Dhimurru, 2006, p. 4): ‘It is still our wish
to engage in a positive way and in a spirit of good will
with those who share the sea with us. We wish to work
toward reconciliation of two management systems to
ensure the best possible outcomes for our sea country.’
Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters (Dhimurru, 2010) is
deliberately intended to strike a chord of mutual
collaboration and appreciation for sea country as a way
to engender open-mindedness. They urge fishers to
observe, respect and adhere to guidance, tradition and
restrictions, which are enforceable by law. This is
important as earlier research suggests that fishing in the
Northern Territory is generally experienced as ‘a lifestyle’
where much value is placed on open public access and
free use of resources whereby any restrictions are viewed
as an impingement on the perceived rights and freedoms
of non-Aboriginal fishers (Palmer, 2004). Non-Yolŋu
fishers interviewed as part of this research repeatedly
used phrases such as ‘a matter of principle’ when
explaining their unwillingness to conform to the
implications of the Blue Mud Bay case5 which legally
requires visitors to obtain a fishing permit when active
within the Yolŋu-owned intertidal zone. Due to such
prevalent perceptions, the Yolŋu (through Dhimurru)
decided that illegal fishing activity and land access would
not be legally pursued if the offender subsequently
obtained a fishing permit, which would then be
backdated. Yolŋu hope that this conciliatory approach
will help in sensitizing non-indigenous fishers to Yolŋu
cultural values, which are central to resolving the
problematic issues they identified. In general Dhimurru
staff reason that: ‘when fishers take an interest in why
sea country is healthy, it is hoped that they will also want
to know how they can help maintain sea country when
they are on the water.’ (non-Yolŋu interviewee, pers.
There also exists a general consensus that the Guidelines
for Fishers and Boaters will only achieve their purpose
when adequate communication and dissemination
pathways are followed up by appropriate enforcement.
Nevertheless, most Yolŋu were unclear about what type
of enforcement efforts would be required. This could in
part be explained by Yolŋu’s unfamiliarity concerning the
potential legal implications of the Blue Mud Bay case.
Several Yolŋu suggested increased compliance checks in
the face of rising concerns and feelings of not being in
control over activities taking place on their land and sea
estates. Currently, indigenous rangers have little or no
legal enforcement capacity. However, they are permitted
to check fishers’ catch, record and report marine wildlife
casualties as well as report illegal access and
inappropriate behaviour to the Australian Customs and
Border Protection Service, local police and/or the Parks
and Wildlife Commission (PWCNT). Other interviewees
suggested that it would be more effective to increase
indigenous enforcement capacity and investigate less
labour-intensive methods of checking compliance such as
obligatory GPS tracking of fishers and vessels on
Aboriginal land and waters as well as improved
registration of the catch. Many interviewees expected
that enforcement by Dhimurru’s sea rangers would help
to decrease incidences of inappropriate behaviour and,
importantly, also act as an effective vehicle for facilitating
cross-cultural understanding between Commonwealth
law and Yolŋu law (Rom).
This research elicited Yolŋu perceptions of sea country
activities and management as a basis for formulating
practical outcomes that are cognizant of Yolŋu and non-
Yolŋu cultural values. The action research process, which
led to the development of the Guidelines for Fishers and
Boaters, also contributed to ‘both ways’ management by
placing emphasis on the importance of improving mutual
understanding and cross-cultural learning among
researchers, IPA staff and other stakeholders. The ‘both
ways’ approach the framework for our research has
been valuable in this particular conservation context.
Similarly, the Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters may
serve as an example of a process and product to other
indigenous groups both along the Northern Territory
coastline and in other parts of the world.
Improving cross-cultural learning within the
‘both ways’ approach
We highlight the importance of solution-oriented action
research in addressing conservation concerns in a cross-
cultural context. Cultural values are largely intangible
Verschuuren et al
and render themselves invisible to most non-indigenous
people. Therefore, challenges persist in guiding and
sensitizing non-indigenous use of the Australian coastal
zone in a cross-cultural context. Our research process
enabled us to appreciate the synergies that can be found
when doing research and developing guidelines through
the ‘both ways’ approach. That is, making a shift from
learning about the natural world to learning from and
within the natural world based on a Yolŋu worldview.
Berkes has described this ‘synergizing’ as a process of
bringing into dialogue different ontological knowledge
systems (Berkes, 2009) whilst others have termed it
‘weaving’ (Bartlett et al., 2012) or ‘co-motion’ (Muller,
In remaining true to the Yolŋu analogy of Ganma (i.e. a
place where fresh and salt water meet and mix), we
believe that the metaphor of ‘brackish water’ could be
invoked as a new way of understanding the ‘both ways’
process as being fluid rather than static. In this mixed
domain, it is possible to encounter both aspects of
indigenous ontologies (e.g. certain spirit-beings that
appear as animated currents, rocks and animals) as well
as of scientific conceptualizations such as keystone or
flagship species. This mixing can enrich the social
learning process such that outcomes engage with new
audiences, disciplines and sectors with the ultimate aim
of being recognized or, further, legitimized by becoming
embedded in institutional mindsets and contemporary
Fishing vessels may damage sea grass, a primary habitat for the endangered dugong. Its quality is of constant concern to Yolŋu
who carry out monitoring activities that feed into a larger database on sea grass research across northern Australia. The
activity itself is an example of Dhimurru staff and external researchers working together whilst also sharing the experience and
expertise with rangers from neighbouring Indigenous Protected Areas © Bas Verschuuren
policy. In achieving conservation outcomes, social
learning is as important as conceptual learning (Lauber,
Stedman, Decker, & Knuth, 2011). Mixing indigenous
knowledge and land management practices with Western
views on conservation management can lead to new
understandings of conservation management and a
broader recognition of the contribution of Yolŋu
ontologies in achieving and maintaining regional and
national conservation targets.
However, publication of the Guidelines for Fishers and
Boaters on its own has so far been unable to bring about
a significant change in non-Yolŋu fishers’ behaviour, or
at least to the extent that it alleviated the Yolŋu’s original
concerns. Social learning is therefore only effective to the
extent to which social actors demonstrate an openness
and willingness to learn. In the contemporary northern
Australian context, effective broad-scale social learning
(and intercultural appreciation) will require more
intensively tailored approaches that engage specific
stakeholders and target specific behaviours as part of the
application of a well-formulated community-based social
marketing strategy (McKenzie-Mohr, 2011). However,
this may require more resources and capacity than most
small research teams have at their immediate disposal.
The role of researchers in a ‘both ways’
We conclude that applied research in a local and social
context must strive for participation and shared problem
-solving aimed at guiding well-informed action. This
process rests on a shared willingness among researchers,
practitioners and stakeholders to be open to the validity
of each other’s perceptions in order to stimulate mutual
learning for developing sustainable options for
management problems (Hoffmann et al., 2012; Waltner-
Toews et al., 2003; Yunupingu & Muller, 2009). It also
places a responsibility on researchers to ensure that
results and newfound knowledge are ready to be
translated into materials that support implementation
(Lauber et al., 2011; McNiff & Whitehead, 2006; Pohl et
al., 2010).
The scientific researchers working through the ‘both
ways’ approach on this project experienced that their aim
as researchers did not simply restrict itself to the
production of knowledge but rather involved knowledge
co-production through social learning. This required the
researchers to take on different roles also described by
Pohl and colleagues (2010) as ‘the reflective scientist’,
‘the intermediary’ and ‘the facilitator’ of a joint learning
process (Pohl et al., 2010). Like Coombes and colleagues
(2014) suggest, those in the roles of researchers were also
invited and challenged to engage across boundaries of
difference in new ways.
Whilst conceptualizing and understanding ontological
differences may not be easy, it is nevertheless integral to
the co-production of knowledge and the social learning
process which underpins successful participatory
conservation strategies. When subsequently providing a
framework for mixing such different cultural views and
logics, a key determinant is whether the resultant
behaviours of the value system applied are likely to
sustain the ecological context upon which they depend.
We believe that a ‘both-ways’ approach helped ensure
that the Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters adhered to
this logic.
1 Although conservationists as a broad term can include
activists and laypersons we use the word ‘conservationist’
more specifically to refer to scientific researchers and
practitioners such as conservation biologists and
2 We use inverted commas here because we are aware
that this generalization does not do justice to existing
epistemological and ontological differences within
scientific fields.
3 The ‘both ways’ approach was the basis for Dhimurru’s
working agreement with the Parks and Wildlife
Commission of the Northern Territory (PWCNT).
Rangers and staff from both Dhimurru and the PWCNT
share and practise aspects of traditional and
contemporary land management on a daily basis.
4 See:
5 The Blue Mud Bay case was decided by the Federal
Court of Australia on 23 July 2008 and resulted in the
recognition of Aboriginal peoples’ legal rights over
approximately 80 per cent of the Northern Territory’s
coastal intertidal zone to the mean lowest watermark.
Indigenous people now negotiate access and use of this
zone in relation to recreational and commercial fisheries.
This offers opportunities to extend Yolŋu values into
conservation planning processes as well as economic
development of the coastal zone.
First and foremost we wish to thank the Yolŋu for
warmly welcoming us into their communities and onto
their land and sea estates. We are very grateful to all
interviewees who participated in this research. We are
also indebted to NAILSMA’s Marine Turtle and Dugong
Project and Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation for
providing long-term project support throughout this
research (e.g. field equipment, finance, Yolŋu
consultants, office space, staff etc.) as well as guiding
dissemination and implementation of the guidelines to
date. Financial support was granted by the Marine
Conservation Biology Institute (MCBI) and in-kind
Verschuuren et al
contributions provided by the EarthCollective Network
and the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative. The authors
sincerely thank Steve Roeger, Valerie Boll, Samantha
Muller, Rod Kennett, Vanessa Drysdale, Ben Hoffmann,
Greg Wearne and Madelon Lohbeck for their
constructive comments and valuable feedback on earlier
versions of this article.
Bas Verschuuren is a freelance researcher and adviser
who links biocultural conservation work with applied
scientific research around the world. He is co-chair of the
IUCN WCPA Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual
Values of Protected Areas, coordinator for the Sacred
Natural Sites Initiative and associate researcher at the
Department of Sociology of Development and Change at
Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Currently his
research focuses on the role of worldviews and ontologies
in nature conservation and rural development.
Matthew Zylstra is an integral ecologist and facilitator
with the EarthCollective Network and field instructor for
Wildlands Studies in Australia and South Africa.
Matthew obtained his PhD through the Department of
Conservation Ecology, Stellenbosch University as part of
their Transdisciplinary Doctoral Programme in
Sustainability. His research has focused on nature
experience and connectedness, its relationship to
environmental behaviour and implications for
sustainability education. He coordinates
an outreach initiative drawing on scientific research
and experiential insight in support of ‘consciousness for
Balupalu Yunupingu is a senior Gumatj Aboriginal
person from north East Arnhem Land in the Northern
Territory, Australia. Balupalu worked as senior Sea
Country Ranger with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation
and is currently with Gumatj Corporation, an initiative of
Gumatj Clan leaders that focuses on building economic
opportunities in remote aboriginal communities.
Gerard Verschoor is assistant professor at the
Sociology of Development and Change Group of
Wageningen University, The Netherlands. His field of
research encompasses the nexus between conservation
and development. Specific focuses hereby are the
communicative and/or conceptual disjunctures that arise
when different ‘worlds’ or ontologies (most notably those
of conservationists and indigenous people) meet, and the
different ways in which ‘difference’ is given a place at this
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(3), 158167. DOI:10.1080/14486563.2009.9725232
Este artículo muestra la importancia de las ontologías indígenas en la gestión intercultural o “bidireccional”
de la conservación costera del Área Protegida Indígena de Dhimurru en el noreste de Arnhem Land,
Australia. En este proyecto de investigación, algunos miembros de la comunidad Yolŋu externaron su
preocupación con respecto a las prácticas de pesca y navegación recreativa utilizadas por personas ajenas a
la comunidad. Participaron en una discusión sobre temas de interés y la posterior formulación de
soluciones para la gestión autóctona. Ello condujo a la elaboración de directrices pertinentes a nivel local
para pescadores y navegantes con aplicaciones potencialmente más amplias en otras áreas protegidas
indígenas y más allá. Exploramos el enfoque "bidireccional", aprobado por la Asociación Aborigen de
Dhimurru, que guía la colaboración entre la comunidad Yolŋu y no Yolŋu. Ilustramos cómo el enfoque
facilita ontologías indígenas para crear enfoques de conservación junto con esfuerzos de conservación
fundados en la ciencia occidental. También exploramos las disyuntivas y sinergias entre ambos y
sostenemos que estas se mezclan y pueden ser compatibles en el marco del enfoque "bidireccional". En base
a las enseñanzas extraídas, reflexionamos sobre el proceso de aprendizaje intercultural y el papel de los
investigadores en la coproducción intercultural de conocimientos y la formulación de directrices para
pescadores y navegantes.
Cet article démontre l'importance de prendre en compte les ontologies autochtones dans la gestion
interculturelle ou bilatérale du littoral dans l’Aire Protégée Autochtone Dhimurru, au nord-est d’Arnhem en
Australie. Au cours d’une étude sur le terrain, des individus Yolŋu ont exprimé de l’inquiétude face aux
activités de pêche et de navigation en mer des personnes non-Yolŋu. Après avoir engagé des discussions sur
ces questions, ils ont proposé des solutions de gestion autochtone. Ceci a mené à la mise en place de
directives locales pour les pêcheurs et les plaisanciers qui peuvent potentiellement s’appliquer à d'autres
aires protégées autochtones et au-delà. Nous explorons l'approche «bilatérale» adoptée par la Société
Autochtone Dhimurru qui définit la collaboration entre Yolŋu et non-Yolŋu. Nous illustrons comment cette
approche permet de combiner les ontologies autochtones et les techniques de conservation contemporaines.
Nous allons plus loin dans l’analyse des contradictions et des synergies entre ces deux approches pour
montrer leur compatibilité dans le cadre d’une solution ‘bilatérale’. Les enseignements de cette étude nous
permettent de réfléchir sur l’apprentissage inter-culturel et sur le rôle des chercheurs dans la formulation
de directives pour les pêcheurs et plaisanciers.
... This exclusive rightsholder approach is not well documented in the literature [47], although other Indigenous Peoples are pursuing similar avenues (e.g., the tribal park Wanachis-hilth-hoo-is by the Tla-o-qui-aht [62,63]). Other levels of governments are oftentimes involved as stakeholders or co-planners during marine or other systematic conservation planning processes with local and Indigenous Peoples (Step 2; [31])( [17,41,43,72,93,98,99]). The Songhees community's early and prolonged involvement and their preferences set the marine conservation goals and priorities for the protection of the seascape Tl'ches. ...
... In particular, they seek outcomes that facilitate a continuance of traditional cultural practices and harvesting traditions for generations to come. Protecting these types of place-based approaches is a common goal for Indigenous Peoples when participating in conservation planning and in general [13,33,34,48,49,57,70,98,109,110]. ...
The biodiversity crisis is paralleled by a decline in the ability of Indigenous peoples to practice traditional livelihoods, cultures and languages. The world’s oceans and coastal communities face such threats, prompting increasing interest in establishing conservation measures. Systematic conservation planning (SCP) is a structured approach to establish conservation measures with clearly defined objectives, such as protected areas. Many Indigenous peoples are resurging to reclaim and protect some of their traditional lands and revitalize their cultures as rights holders. SCP goals and Indigenous goals could thus align. This research documents the Indigenous-led marine conservation planning process of the Songhees Nation to reclaim and assert stewardship around the Tl’ches archipelago near Victoria, Canada. We compare the Songhees marine conservation planning approach to SCP approaches. The Songhees approach showed similarities to SCP in the initial scoping phase of the marine conservation planning, in the review and compiling of existing data prior to the collection of data as well as the focus on focal species. The Songhees approach to marine conservation planning also differed from SCP as it included one zone only, did not involve any other stakeholders, and tried to account for the whole social-ecological system in one process step. This research provides useful insights and a guidance to help interested Indigenous communities worldwide to conduct their own marine conservation planning.
... For example, Murray and King (2012) noted the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation governs its tribal parks though customary and contemporary approaches to improve contemporary cultural fit. Verschuuren et al. (2015) emphasized the "two-way" approach in the Dhirrumu IPA (Australia) ranger program improved IPA management, particularly for engaging other actors for ranger program support. Similarly, the Kitasoo/Xai'xais Nation uses hybrid approaches to utilize western tools (e.g., zoning, adaptive management) that align with Kitasoo/Xai'xais worldviews to facilitate crosscultural strategies to achieve its IPCA goals. ...
... In particular, working at cross-cultural interfaces are known to bring immense pressure, expectation, and a need for a wide variety of skills and knowledge (Preuss and Dixon 2012). Indeed, IPCA managers and cross-cultural partners interested in hybrid approaches must be prepared for substantial investment of resources to determine appropriate pathways (Preuss and Dixon 2012;Verschuuren et al. 2015). Though understanding these challenges, the Nation continues to use hybrid approaches alongside IPCAs to highlight the socio-cultural and ecological benefits of respectfully engaging with Indigenous forms of stewardship. ...
Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) have gained global attention because of renewed interest in protecting biodiversity during a time of Indigenous resurgence. However, few examples in academic literature illustrate Indigenous Peoples’ rationale and processes for developing IPCAs. This paper fills that gap, describing a participatory action research collaboration with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation. We used document analysis, interviews, and community engagement to summarize the Nation’s perspectives while assisting Kitasoo/Xai’xais efforts to develop a land-and-sea IPCA. IPCAs are a tool for the Nation to address ongoing limitations of state protected area governance and management, to better reflect the Nation’s Indigenous rights and responsibilities, and to preserve cultural heritage and biological diversity while fostering sustainable economic opportunities. The Kitasoo/Xai’xais process benefits from research on other IPCAs, includes intergenerational community engagement, and is rooted in long-term territory planning and stewardship capacity building. The Kitasoo/Xai’xais IPCA faces challenges similar to other protected areas but is influenced by ongoing impacts of settler-colonialism. The Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation applies Indigenous and western approaches along with responsibility-based partnerships to address many anticipated challenges. Our case study demonstrates that more efforts are needed by state and other actors to reduce burdening Indigenous Nations’ protected area governance and management and to create meaningful external support for Indigenous-led conservation.
... Gli autori dei paper sono per lo più accademici, con la presenza tuttavia di un 17% di autori affiliati a enti pubblici o istituti di ricerca privati. Gli autori presentano diverse specializzazioni: accanto, come atteso, ad una maggioranza di contributi di studiosi di economia o management, ne sono presenti altri redatti da biologi (Diedrich et al., 2013;Beardmore, 2015), matematici (Neher et al., 2017), naturalisti (Aipanjiguly et al., 2003Widmer e Underwood, 2004;Morris et al., 2007;Montes et al., 2018;Wallen e Kyle, 2018), filosofi (Wester e Eklund, 2011), psicologi (Savelli e Joslyn, 2012), sociologi (DeLorme et al., 2015Verschuuren et al., 2015) e, soprattutto, geografi (tra gli altri, Meyer, 1999Sidman e Fik, 2005;Jett et al., 2009;Petrosillo et al., 2009Petrosillo et al., e 2010Jett e Thapa, 2010;Gray et al. 2010;Mateos, 2010;Seekamp et al., 2016;Johnston et al., 2017). La localizzazione geografica delle istituzioni di affiliazione degli autori è estremamente concentrata: oltre il 70% degli autori è riconducibile a istituzioni localizzate in quattro Paesi: Stati Uniti, Croazia, Spagna e Italia. ...
... La vasta maggioranza degli studi presenta invece gli esiti di una ricerca empirica, realizzata solitamente attraverso survey o analisi di caso nonché, in misura minore, con tecniche di field observation (Gorzelany, 2004;Widmer e Underwood, 2004;Jett. et al., 2009;Jett e Thapa, 2010) o action research (Verschuuren et al., 2015). I dati vengono prevalentemente raccolti tramite intervista (via mail, telefonica o in presenza) salvo casi particolari come la foto elicitazione (Stewart et al., 2003;Dalton e Thompson, 2013). ...
... Moreover, actors in external partnerships can provide ongoing cross-cultural services to enable more effective and efficient communications across different sectors ( . Indigenous Peoples will have to consider the trade-off of various partnerships, particularly the commitment and additional resources to establish and maintain effective working relationships, which may not be feasible in all cases ( Verschuuren et al., 2014). Partnerships, when desired, need to be mutually enabling without building long-term dependence on external expertise ( ). ...
... Indigenous perspectives on IPCA creation, development, governance, and management are limited within the literature, as "different researchers from different cultural backgrounds … have different observations and perspectives" ( Zeng and Gerritsen, 2015, page 26). As such, additional primary research is needed -ideally by Indigenous Peoples or through partnerships using participatory approaches ( ) -to monitor the delivery of these initiatives on socio-cultural and ecological goals, evaluate governance and management effectiveness, investigate adequate mechanisms for bridging western and Indigenous approaches to conservation, and provide support through action-based research to assist Indigenous Peoples to achieve goals ( Verschuuren et al., 2014). We are not Indigenous researchers ourselves, and while we cannot conclusively assess how many authors are or are not Indigenous, we respect the need for Indigenous voices in discourse about IPCAs. ...
Indigenous Peoples’ protected and conserved areas have gained global attention due to growing interest in protecting biodiversity during a time of Indigenous resurgence. We reviewed the academic literature to synthesize the motivations, successes, challenges, and lessons from protected and conserved areas led by Indigenous Peoples globally. We found and analyzed 58 papers, describing 86 specific initiatives involving at least 68 Indigenous Peoples across 25 countries. We found that Indigenous Peoples established protected and conserved areas independently and through local- and broad-scale partnerships. States that supported such efforts did so through formal legislation, agreements, and policies, and informally through local relationships and shared values. Indigenous Peoples’ protected and conserved areas created socio-cultural, political, and ecological benefits such as improving Indigenous livelihoods, increasing governance and management capacities, and improving species populations and habitat protection. However, some challenges (e.g. restrictive legislations, burdensome partnerships, insufficient funding) limited benefits, and demanded additional capacities and resources for mitigation. We recommend that states and other external actors: create and improve policies, legislations, and resources for Indigenous Peoples’ protected and conserved areas as defined by Indigenous Peoples; provide resources and facilitate Indigenous leadership to shape external mechanisms for protected area establishment and development; and create new internal mechanisms for Indigenous engagement and partnerships. Indigenous Peoples would benefit from building partnerships to support and manage their areas. Finally, we suggest that managers commit more resources to effectively monitor and manage these areas, including integrating management priorities with local and larger scale socio-cultural and environmental issues that affect these areas.
... GT inhabit tidal lagoons and estuaries, coral and rocky reefs, and adjacent mesopelagic waters (Daly et al., 2021(Daly et al., , 2019Lédée et al., 2015;Meyer et al., 2007;Papastamatiou et al., 2015;Wetherbee et al., 2004), and likely play an important role as apex predators in reef and island marine ecosystems (Glass et al., 2020). GT are also important to subsistence, commercial, and recreational fisheries, holding considerable cultural and economic value for many local communities and regional commerce (Abdussamad et al., 2008;Gaffney, 2000;Verschuuren et al., 2015). ...
Giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis, GT) are growing in popularity as a target for tourism-based recreational fisheries throughout their range in the Indo-Pacific. Although predominately catch-and-release (C&R), to date there is no species-specific scientific evidence to support capture and handling guidelines. As such, we examined how GT caught via fly fishing gear while in shallow water responded to capture and handling in the Alphonse Island Group, Republic of the Seychelles. Specifically, we evaluated the physical injury for GTs captured via fly fishing gear, as well as their reflex impairment and post-release activity (using tri-axial accelerometer biologgers) following three air exposure treatments (0 s, 15 s, 30 s). We also had a reference treatment where GTs were caught and landed quickly via a handline, and not exposed to air (0 s) prior to release. Hooking location for both gear types was predominately the jaw or corner of the mouth (fly fishing, n = 30; 83.3%; handline; n = 12, 85.7%), but one fish hooked in a critical location for each capture gear. Across all treatments, only one fish (2%) in the handline treatment was considered a potential short-term post-release mortality following being deeply hooked in the gills and subsequently losing equilibrium upon release. GT reflex impairment and overall post-release activity measured via overall dynamic body acceleration were not influenced by fight time and air exposure treatments used in our study. For GTs across all treatments, locomotor activity was lower in the initial minutes following release than during the second half of the ten minute monitoring period. Overall, our study suggests that GTs in the Alphonse Island Group are resilient to being caught via fly fishing, handled, and air exposed for up to 30 s. However, given the diversity of angling locations for GTs (e.g., shallow flats, deeper reefs) and gear types (e.g., conventional tackle, lures with several treble hooks), additional assessments are needed to help act as the foundation for more universal best practices that can inform management plans for GT recreational fisheries.
... Failure to place Indigenous and feminist ontologies and epistemologies when placing Western knowledge has long been considered a subtle means of undermining critical thinking by marginalizing non-Western ideology and scholarship. 50 The braiding of these critical theoretical frameworks in nursing science enables shared co-benefits for the health of all species and the planet. They are not intended to be comprehensive; they are the path to new nursing scholarship and praxis and new ways of environmental justice nursing for planetary health. ...
Personal and planetary environmental justice has become a driving force for innovation in nursing science. The purpose of our Critical Environmental Justice Nursing for Planetary Health Framework is to guide this work by applying critical theory to the way we conceptualize the root causes of environmental injustices. The framework calls for more ethical responses to injustices and challenges the biohierarchical belief that nonmales, non-Whites, and nonhumans are lesser beings that can be made profitable. This response requires nurse leaders who are well prepared in the science and practice of planetary health and the ontologies and epistemologies of regeneration and transformation.
... In other parts of the world, it has been referred to as the "Two-Ways'' or "Both Ways'' approach. For example, the Yolŋu people of northeast Arnhem Land, Australia, use the word "Ganma"-the place where freshwater and saltwater meet and mix-to refer to the blending of parallel systems of Western and Indigenous knowledges (Muller 2012;Verschuuren et al. 2015). ...
Technical Report
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The Planetary Health Education Framework aims to guide the education of global citizens, practitioners, and professionals able and willing to address the complex Planetary Health challenges of our world today. The framework also seeks to inspire all peoples across the globe to create, restore, steward, and conserve healthy ecosystems for a thriving human civilization. We envisage that the framework will contribute to positive outcomes for the biosphere, overcoming the Planetary Health challenges before us.
... Moreover, indigenous conceptions of the sea as a social assemblage of beings contrast with the modern idea of the natural and the social as distinct realms (Lowe 2006;Zerner 2003). Such discrepancies affect collaboration in management and conservation outreach (Pauwelussen and Verschoor 2017;Verschuuren et al. 2015). ...
... Local knowledges and western sciences, especially the discipline of community ecology, share common concepts such as connectedness and relatedness (Pioretti and Wildcat 2000), aspects specifically recognized as a core concern to conservation ( Zylstra et al. 2014). Western sciences have supported objectives defined by local peoples (Bartlett et al. 2012, Muller 2012, Verschuuren et al. 2015. ...
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Diverse and productive ecosystems and human well-being are too often considered opposing targets. This stems mainly from nature being perceived as separate from culture, which results in resilience indicators that focus predominantly on either ecosystems or humans, and that overlook the interplay between the two. Meanwhile, global targets for biodiversity conservation and human well-being have yet to be satisfactorily achieved. We believe that in order to develop effective, culturally appropriate, and equitable conservation strategies that ensure social-ecological resilience, conservation planners and practitioners must conceive of human and ecological well-beings as an interrelated system. By giving nature a voice, and by viewing nature and people as an undifferentiated whole, some indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC) have philosophical bases for achieving well-being for both humans and nature. Biocultural approaches to conservation ground management in local knowledges, practices, and ontologies. These approaches encompass both the biological and cultural aspects of a system, address complex relationships and feedbacks within human and ecological well-being, and offer flexible frameworks that facilitate synthesis across different metrics, knowledge systems, and ontologies. The process of developing indicators of resilience with a biocultural approach could help (1) overcome the human–nature dichotomy that often makes global approaches incompatible with local approaches by integrating local peoples’ diverse forms of relating to nature, (2) reflect two-way feedbacks between people and their environment by focusing on processes, not just final states, and (3) define, measure, and monitor ecological and human well-being as a whole. It can also facilitate dialog between IPLCs and global decision-makers who are disconnected from local realities, and between people from a diversity of disciplinary, ontological, and professional backgrounds.
... Doing applied research answers the immediate need of local communities and is very different from being flown into an area and or community to do a consultancy and deliver external or expert advice that usually turns out to be of limited value, or disconnected from the local communities and organisations involved (Lauber et al. 2011). Instead, doing applied research and developing long term relationships with local and Indigenous communities can contribute to locally significant and useful outcomes (Guri et al. 2012;Verschuuren et al. 2015). Being in the field with people sharing different worldviews also provides an excellent opportunity for analysis and reflection on the different approaches to conservation and the common problems encountered in different management situations and governance arrangements. ...
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This thesis explores the relationships between people, water, and places in the everyday life of the Yolngu people of Yilpara in northeast Arnhem Land. In the Yolngu world, a sophisticated understanding of the fluid and dynamic relationships between fresh and saltwater is given a greater priority than the division of the coast into land and sea. These waters are continually moving and mixing, both underground and on the surface, across an area that stretches from several kilometres inland to the deep sea, and they combine with clouds, rain, tides, and seasonal patterns in a coastal water cycle. Yolngu people use their understanding of water flows as one basis for generating systems of coastal ownership, whilst water also provides a source of rich and complex metaphors in wider social life. Describing this coastal water cycle provides the basis for a critique of the way European topographic maps represent coastal space, and also for a critique of common formulations of customary marine tenure (CMT). However as a methodological tool, I use maps to provide a detailed analysis of people's connections to place and as part of a wider examination of how places are generated and sustained. In this way the thesis contributes to anthropology, marine studies, and indigenous studies as well as touching on some issues of coastal geography. The approach I adopt has a phenomenological emphasis, since it enables me to show how Yolngu concepts arise out of and articulate with their experience of living in their environment and of using knowledge in context. This perspective contributes fresh ethnographic insights to some ongoing contemporary debates about people and place. The paired tropes of flow and movement are used as a gloss throughout the work, as each chapter takes a different domain of human life at Yilpara and explores how water, place, and human movement are manifested in it. Such domains include subsistence hunting and fishing, group and gender distinctions in presence on the country, food sharing, memories of residence and travel, personal names, spirits and Dreaming figures, patterns of coastal ownership, and interactions with professional fishermen. Together, they provide an account of the different ways that people relate to water, place and country in contemporary everyday life. ‘Where the Clouds Stand’ is predominantly an ethnographically driven work from one locality, but within that approach, it also explores broader considerations of phenomenology, anthropological inquiry, and human life more generally.
Most programs to foster sustainable behavior continue to be based upon models of behavior change that psychological research has found to be limited. Although psychology has much to contribute to the design of effective programs to foster sustainable behavior, little attention has been paid to ensuring that psychological knowledge is accessible to those who design environmental programs. This article presents a process. community-based social marketing, that attempts to make psychological knowledge relevant and accessible to these individuals. Further, it provides two case studies in which program planners have utilized this approach to deliver their initiatives. Finally, it reflects on the obstacles that exist to incorporating psychological expertise into programs to promote sustainable behavior.
This paper asks how Indigenous ways of being and knowing can become legitimized within western theorizations of ontology, given the ongoing (neo)colonial relations that shape geographic knowledge production. My analysis emerges within my narrative accounts of being a Kwakwaka'wakw scholar in two spaces of knowledge production: a geography conference and a potlatch. Through these stories, I engage with the individual embodied scales at which we reproduce geography as a discipline and reproduce ourselves as geographers. I argue that making ontological shifts in the types of geographic knowledge that is legible within the discipline requires destabilizing how we come to know Indigeneity and what representational strategies are used in engaging with Indigenous ontologies, as differentiated from western ontologies of Indigeneity.
Sea country planning has emerged as a tool for Indigenous Australian groups to express their aspirations and seek investment for managing the sea. This article contextualises sea country within a Yolngu Traditional Owner view, challenging dominant understandings, and administrative and legislative provisions for public ownership of the seas. Challenges for progressing Yolngu sea country agendas are discussed with respect to dominant culture views on sea country ownership. We then introduce the concept of sea country plans and consider the advantages of Traditional Owners defining their own geographical and governance area and aspirations for management. The article offers a Yolngu ontological approach to rethinking sea country and its management.
The research presented here focused on the ethnozoology of frogs as viewed by two Aboriginal communities: Gängan and Gapuwiyak, which are both located in north-east Arnhem Land (Yolngu territory), Northern Territory. The aim of this research was to record traditional Aboriginal knowledge about frogs as viewed by Dhalwangu, a Yolngu clan. Particular emphasis was placed on amphibian traditions and beliefs, local nomenclature, and natural history as conceived by the Dhalwangu. A full understanding of the symbolism of Garkman, the frog, and its relatedness to other aspects of the culture is only beginning to be realised by the researchers. Traditional ecological knowledge illustrates how Aboriginal people have learned to survive and live in their environment, but the gradual loss of such knowledge (especially with the death of senior men and elders) and the devastation of ecosystems by invasive pests threaten local traditional knowledge. For example, the recent spread of the introduced cane toad (Bufo marinus) into Yolngu land is expected to have some impact on native species of frog and the broader-ecosystem which they inhabit, but also cultural effects, including loss of traditional food and alteration of totem species. This paper describes the significance of frogs to the Gängan and Gapuwiyak communities, assesses frog biodiversity in Yolngu territory according to indigenous knowledge, attempts to document the changes in frog biodiversity currently occurring as a result of environmental impacts such as growing populations of the cane toad, and points to the cultural significance of these changes.