Solwater Advisory Committee

Balkanu applied on behalf of Apudthama Land Trust for $90,000 to conduct a community based process. Funding from the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management’s land and sea small grants program was granted in 2009. At that time Lavenia and Alifereti Tawake were doing research in Torres Strait on biodiversity and hand collection fisheries respectively. Both had been involved in the LMMA (Locally Managed Marine Areas) programme in the Pacific. That programme has grown from a few villages to include over 600 since 2000.

Lavenia and Chris Roberts of Balkanu teamed up to do this. Lavenia did interviews with the 41 hunters in the NPA, and asked them a series of questions that had been discussed and approved by the Apudthama Land Trust. Chris’s job was mainly to introduce Lavenia, provide background to NPA science and history and develop the scientific information for the discussion between hunters and community.

Many meetings were held with opportunities for both people with historical ties to northern Cape York Peninsula and traditional owner groups to speak separately. Larger meetings were held at night so that workers could come. Children were welcome too. Old people came to talk about “beportaim” and to express their views and concerns about the current situation. Those views which relate to “prapa wei” became important in the Solwata Advisory Committee as rules were developed.

Lavenia analysed all the interview information.

  1. There was a clear vision
    • all wanted turtle and dugong for the future
    • young people should know how to hunt the proper way
  2. A very large majority (95%) of the interviewed hunters supported a permit system
  3. A very large majority (95%) of the interviewed hunters said that the traditional owners or their rangers or Apudthama Land Trust should control that system.

The permit system was discussed by senior traditional owners and they said the first step should be Hunter ID cards. This is to show that a hunter has the blessing of the Apudthama Land Trust to hunt in Apudthama water. It is not a permit, it is an ID.

To ensure that historical people had a voice the Apudthama Land Trust wanted to establish a Solwata Advisory Committee. This would advise ALT about what rules should apply, who would be good senior people to act as mentors and disciplinarians in each of the five communities, hunters who could bring their skills, practical knowledge and experience (including food and fuel cost issues) to the table. The Solwata Advisory Committee is made up as follows

  • One main hunter from each community
  • One elder or senior person from each community
  • 2 TOs from each ALT clan group
  • and an invited scientist where possible.

The next step was to find money for this Solwata Advisory Committee to meet.

Balkanu successfully applied for funding to do that. At this point the Solwata Advisory Committee has had 3 meeting and have produced a 2nd draft set of rules for endorsement by the Apudthama Land Trust.

For more information contact: Chris Roberts or Deborah Cesari, Balkanu Aboriginal Development Corporation


Apudthama Land Trust