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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 73-83

Options for managing the sustainable use of green turtles: Perceptions of Hammond Islanders in Torres Strait


1 School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Australia
2 School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University; and Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility, Australia
3 Hammond Island Council, Hammond Island, Torres Strait, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Jillian Grayson
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University
Australia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.62673

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One of the largest populations of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the world spends at least part of its life cycle in the remote Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea. This population is subjected to traditional harvests from geographically dispersed communities including along the northern and eastern coasts of Australia, Indonesia and south-western Pacific nations. In Torres Strait, green turtle hunting is classed as a traditional fishery and is guaranteed by Australian legislation (Native Title Act 1993) and the Torres Strait Treaty between Australia and Papua New Guinea that aims to protect the traditional lifestyle of the region's indigenous peoples. To investigate the Islanders' thoughts and aspirations regarding marine turtle management, we interviewed hunters and Islander Elders from the Hammond Island community in the Kaurareg nation of Kaiwalagal. Although not the Traditional Owners of the Kaiwalagal sea country in which they live and hunt, Hammond Islanders wish to be involved in the management of resources on which they depend, including marine turtles. They considered community-based processes to be important, especially the application of (1) cultural norms to the development of tools to achieve compliance and enforcement within the community, and (2) consensus-based decision-making amongst hunters and elders within the community, with regard to the use of more formal rules. However, the need for co-operation with other communities and stakeholders across scales was also recognised, particularly with regard to enforcement. Our results suggest that co-management is likely to be a more appropriate approach for managing green turtles in Torres Strait than either community-based management or government-driven management.


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