Dugong and turtle management project wins national award 

The winning team: Joe Morrison, Patrick White, Kevin George, Kenny Bedford, Damien Pracey, and Rod Kennett with Environment Minister Peter Garrett

A breakthrough dugong and marine turtle management project has taken top honours at the recent Banksia Environmental Foundation’s 2008 Banksia Environment Awards.

The Dugong and Marine Turtle Project, led by the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA), was one of three finalists competing for the Indigenous Award category at the presentation evening held on Friday, 18 July.

NAILSMA Executive Officer, Joe Morrison said the award recognised the collaboration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, scientists and government from across northern Australia to support Indigenous management and protection of the threatened marine species.

“Northern Australia is one of the last remaining in-tact marine ecosystems of its kind and Indigenous people are the ‘front-line’ managers of the coastline where dugong and turtle remain abundant, as has been the case for millennia,” he said.

“Driven by Indigenous people, the project has taken a practical approach by creating new Indigenous ranger programs and supported communities to combine Traditional Knowledge with modern research and training to undertake management activities such as mapping and monitoring populations and habitats, tracking turtle migrations by satellite, and developing turtle and dugong management plans.”

Charles Darwin University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Garnett joined Mr Morrison, Project Coordinator Rod Kennett, NAILSMA project participants, Tropical Savannas CRC Chief Executive Officer, David Garnett, and Traditional Owners at the awards ceremony held in Melbourne.

Project partners across Australia include Charles Darwin University (CDU), Tropical Savannas CRC, Northern Land Council, Kimberley Land Council, Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation and Torres Strait Regional Authority.

NAILSMA was established to build capacity by facilitating community engagement, knowledge generation and strategic implementation across the north’s Indigenous estate and is a partner agency of the Tropical Savannas CRC which is hosted by CDU.

The Banksia Environmental Foundation Award Programs, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as patron, aim to raise the profile of current environmental issues facing Australia and recognise those whose initiatives provide examples for others to follow.