Mixing Waters

A cross-cultural approach to developing practical guidelines for fishers and boaters in northeast Arnhem Land, Australia.

EarthCollective members Bas Verschuuren (Editor in Chief, Sacred Nature Sites Initiative) and Matthew Zylstra (Founding Coordinator, eyes4earth) led co-authorship of an article recently published in PARKS: The International Journal of Protected Areas and Conservation (Issue 21.1).

The article, Mixing Waters represents both the primary scientific output and a culmination of field research the team carried out in collaboration with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation between 2007 – 2011 in developing locally relevant recreational fishing and boating guidelines.

Download PDF: Mixing Waters

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.

DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.CH.2014.PARKS-21-1BV.en

The authors remain grateful to both the Yolŋu people and Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation for welcoming them onto country and providing much support toward the realisation of both this research article and the Guidelines for Fishers and Boaters. Thanks also to NAILSMA (Marine Turtle and Dugong Project) and the Marine Conservation Biology Institute for their valuable in-kind and financial contributions.

Header photo by Bas Verschuuren


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