Woppaburra Elders, TUMRA committee members and Woppaburra individuals came together with Konomie Environmental Education Centre Staff and P&C representatives, Central Queensland University, Fitzroy Basin Association, the State Member for Keppel, Brittany Lauga to celebrate the opening of the new seagrass growing facility named ‘SeaGrow Konomie Island’.
The building of the seagrass education nursery facility (SeaGrow Konomie Island) has three main objectives: Providing an education resource to community and schools visiting the centre, to learn about this important habitat and the conditions required for the plants to grow and thrive; develop training programs for Traditional Owners in seagrass restoration and mariculture (Microcredentials and Vocational Training); increase research on the seagrass populations around the islands, understanding their ecology to be able to undertake restoration were needed.
The project builds on existing infrastructure, designs, permits, and seagrass restoration research carried out at CMERC over the past 10 years and will complement the planned large-scale nursery in Gladstone, by contributing to establishing protocols for seagrass cultivation for restoration including best practice guidelines for operation and community engagement developed through research and partner consultation.
Restoring marine habitat builds on indigenous cultural foundations dating back 60,000 years or more. By incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge and CQU research into seagrass restoration training programmes the partnership between the TUMRA, KIEEC and CMERC is an opportunity for Traditional Owners to drive a new industry in marine vegetation restoration. Worldwide habitat restoration, including seagrass meadows, has been shown as an effective way to stimulate job creation and provide longer-term economic benefits, including future job creation through rebuilding fisheries and coastal tourism.
Woppaburra TUMRA Chair Meaghan Cummins said “As with all projects the TUMRA undertake our foremost concern is managing sea country align with our cultural protocol guidelines, more so the caretaking of our sea country. This study & the building of the nursery allows for less traffic on sea country whilst still educating everyone on the importance of seagrass. As a traditional custodian I am comforted knowing we’ve held up our cultural responsibilities which is to look after the dugong (one of our totems). Dugongs are reliant on seagrass for food. Seagrass Ecosystems with dugongs indicate a healthy ecosystem. “Healthy Body Healthy Country”