Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Evolution of a Sustainable Sea Country Monitoring Program That Delivers Results to Traditional Owners (#78)

Azton Howard 1 , Katherine Cure 2 , Phillip McCarthy 3 , Damon Pyke 3 , Daniel Oades 4 , Martial Depczsynski 2 , Jim Underwood 5
  1. Bardi Jawi Rangers, Ardyaloon, WA
  2. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Crawley, WA, Australia
  3. Bardi Jawi Rangers, Ardyaloon, WA, Australia
  4. Kimberley Land Council, Broome, WA
  5. Gondwana Link, Albany, WA, Australia

The Bardi-Jawi Rangers are pioneers in implementing a marine ecosystem monitoring program designed to enable traditional owners to evaluate the health of sea country and detect changes due to emerging threats. The rangers, in partnership with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, have completed four annual surveys of fringing reefs and mangroves across Bardi Jawi sea country using underwater imagery techniques. Results from this monitoring establish a baseline and three-year trends in coral cover, fish diversity and abundance of culturally important fish species. Trends for these indicators suggest that sea country remains healthy despite some bleaching events in the past few years. The program has focussed on building capability in the rangers to increasingly undertake the field monitoring and data analysis, ensuring it continues to evolve into an achievable program with genuine sustainability. Results have also been shared and used in novel ways, including creating Story Maps as a platform to aid data analyses and discuss results, as well as a targeted communications workshop to elders, decision makers and children, in a one-of-a-kind attempt to bring results back to country.