Torres Strait Seagrass Observer Program

Introduction

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians on whose land and sea areas seagrass monitoring takes place. Please be advised that this communication may contain images of persons who have died and we offer our apologies for any distress caused if this occurs.

The Torres Strait Seagrass Observers Program combines education and training that develops skills and proficiency in field-based intertidal seagrass monitoring. It provides Torres Strait Islanders with the necessary tools to be involved in the management of their sea areas.

The program started with four students and one teacher from Tagai College monitoring a site within the intertidal seagrass at Battery Point, Thursday Island in 2004. With the commencement of the Torres Strait Ranger Program in 2008, the program expanded to monitoring 15 intertidal sites across 8 islands, Ngarupai (Horn Island), Keriri, (Hammond Island), Waiben, (Thursday Island), Badu, Mer, Mabuyag, Iama and Mua. The program currently monitors 11 intertidal seagrass meadows on the outer islands.

The Torres Strait Islands are home to people of aboriginal and Melanesian descent. Their way of life is one of the oldest marine oriented, sea-life dependent societies in the world. Seagrass meadows of this region are acknowledged as an invaluable resource for sustaining populations of dugong, turtle, fish, prawns, beche-de-mer and tropical rock lobster that support the local economies. The loss of local seagrass meadows and the animals that rely on this habitat would test the resilience of “Ailan Kastom”, the central cultural driver for Torres Strait Islanders.

The Purpose

To support the up-skilling and continued involvement of Torres Strait islanders in monitoring the intertidal meadows of their local seagrass patches.

Key Outcomes

  • Torres Strait Islanders are trained and confident in monitoring seagrass meadows in a scientifically rigorous manner.
  • Develop skills that are transferable to other types of natural resource monitoring.
  • Torres Strait Islanders are establishing a database on the status and condition of Torres Strait seagrass meadows for Torres Strait Islanders to manage.

Benefits to the Torres Strait Islands

The program has been recognised for its commitment to improving the leadership and governance of Torres Strait Islanders with respect to natural resource management. Provision of training and assisted monitoring enables island communities to become integrally involved and empowered in decisions regarding their seagrass habitats.

 

Further reading

Posters

Badu Island
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