This is project will develop a “Indigenous Turtle and Dugong Conservation Comic” project for the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry that increases the understanding of Indigenous dugong and turtle fishermen about species sustainability and the population impacts if extraction continues at current levels.
The Torres Strait region is characterised by a complex marine ecosystem, which supports globally significant populations of dugong and marine turtles. Torres Strait is the most important dugong habitat in the world and the region has six of the seven species of marine turtles.
Within Torres Strait there are nineteen Indigenous communities distributed across seventeen geographically remote islands stretching to the south-western coast of Papua New Guinea and the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula. These communities are very diverse in terms of their socio-economic, cultural and political characteristics. Each community also has differing priorites, needs and concerns in relation to local issues affecting turtle and dugong.
Story telling is the basis for Indigenous communication. Families prefer messages as stories because they resonate with people's day to day experience and have been the cornerstone of passing on culture and values. Many organisations now understand the value of this form of communication. This project, to develop a series of educational comic books in collaboration with Island youth, is needed to develop grassroots knowledge of conservation and fisheries management, and committment to sustainable practices for harvest of dugong and turtle.
This knowledge and committment is necessary to ensure young Indigenosu school students understand the environemental impacts of traditional harvest of marine turtle and duging, and in turn to ensure the sustainability of traditional hunting practice.